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Nightly Sciatic Nerve Pain

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My sciatic nerve pain has been increasing of late. I periodically think I have solved this problem, and then it comes back again. Am discovering using St. John's Wort oil on painful areas actually does help. However I also do yoga and walking daily as well as push ups and sit ups etc. to help deal with it. Was originally caused by a childhood accident which severely damaged my L-5 vertebrae and whacked my sacrum. However I also discovered that the celiac has greatly exacerbated this by having reduced the myelin sheath that covers my nerves. They have improved since I have been 100% gluten free these last 2 years plus also take co-enzyme B vitamins. I also take a host of minerals since my body is low on them. Most recent additions are MSM and Silica. Has really helped me to build stronger tendons and thus a stronger body overall (am now up to 60 modified push ups!). I realize to really heal though I need to create even more muscle since part of my bony material just isn't there. However I notice that the connecting spots in my butt are sore from the sciatica when I really stretch my legs using psoas stretches!!

This nerve pain is wracking my body at night more often than not of late...

I am almost thinking I need to start making gluten-free baked goods to get more safflower oil etc. in my diet since I am actually low in the commonly used oils due to my back to the basics diet. Thing is though that I am also very sensitive to anything that encourages yeast or candida production, having had far too many antibiotics in my life. I am allergic to all nuts as well as sesame, however I do love and actually usually manage to eat lots of sunflower seeds.

Any suggestions, experience or commiserations?

Bea

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I am a big chiropractic fan. A good chiro can really help with sciatic troubles, even if you have had an accident or damage.

There is a stretch you can do for the sciatic nerve. Let me try to describe it. You lay flat on your stomache and bend your knee up at a 90 degree angle so your foot is in the air. If you have someone help you it works better. The friend moves your bent leg to the side towards the floor as far as it will go one way, slowly and carefully of course. Then bend your leg towards the floor the other way. It will stretch the sciatic nerve nicely.

You can try to do it yourself, but it is a bit harder.

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My sciatic nerve pain has been increasing of late. I periodically think I have solved this problem, and then it comes back again. Am discovering using St. John's Wort oil on painful areas actually does help. However I also do yoga and walking daily as well as push ups and sit ups etc. to help deal with it. Was originally caused by a childhood accident which severely damaged my L-5 vertebrae and whacked my sacrum. However I also discovered that the celiac has greatly exacerbated this by having reduced the myelin sheath that covers my nerves. They have improved since I have been 100% gluten free these last 2 years plus also take co-enzyme B vitamins. I also take a host of minerals since my body is low on them. Most recent additions are MSM and Silica. Has really helped me to build stronger tendons and thus a stronger body overall (am now up to 60 modified push ups!). I realize to really heal though I need to create even more muscle since part of my bony material just isn't there. However I notice that the connecting spots in my butt are sore from the sciatica when I really stretch my legs using psoas stretches!!

This nerve pain is wracking my body at night more often than not of late...

I am almost thinking I need to start making gluten-free baked goods to get more safflower oil etc. in my diet since I am actually low in the commonly used oils due to my back to the basics diet. Thing is though that I am also very sensitive to anything that encourages yeast or candida production, having had far too many antibiotics in my life. I am allergic to all nuts as well as sesame, however I do love and actually usually manage to eat lots of sunflower seeds.

Any suggestions, experience or commiserations?

Bea

Ugh, I can commiserate, although I am newly gluten-free. The pain was so bad at night, even though I was doing yoga every day. When I went gluten-free I started taking capsules by VegLife with flax,fish and borage oil. I also started with Health from the Sun calcium-Magnesium tablets. And my sciatica is now completely gone. Another thing that I found helped was rolling on the hip muscle with one of those hard styrofoam yoga rollers. Good luck, I hope it gets better for you soon.

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Sorry to hear your going through this. Its not fun. I spent 58 days in a hospital in Japan about 20 years ago then 6 months in rehab in Chicago after damaging 3 discs. I have not had back problems since then in part from what I learned for stretching. opposite arm and leg etc.

I still, someplace around here., have the sheets they sent me. email me a fax or email and I'll try to find and send them.

The sublingual B you turned me on too has been a big help

ken

My sciatic nerve pain has been increasing of late. I periodically think I have solved this problem, and then it comes back again. Am discovering using St. John's Wort oil on painful areas actually does help. However I also do yoga and walking daily as well as push ups and sit ups etc. to help deal with it. Was originally caused by a childhood accident which severely damaged my L-5 vertebrae and whacked my sacrum. However I also discovered that the celiac has greatly exacerbated this by having reduced the myelin sheath that covers my nerves. They have improved since I have been 100% gluten free these last 2 years plus also take co-enzyme B vitamins. I also take a host of minerals since my body is low on them. Most recent additions are MSM and Silica. Has really helped me to build stronger tendons and thus a stronger body overall (am now up to 60 modified push ups!). I realize to really heal though I need to create even more muscle since part of my bony material just isn't there. However I notice that the connecting spots in my butt are sore from the sciatica when I really stretch my legs using psoas stretches!!

This nerve pain is wracking my body at night more often than not of late...

I am almost thinking I need to start making gluten-free baked goods to get more safflower oil etc. in my diet since I am actually low in the commonly used oils due to my back to the basics diet. Thing is though that I am also very sensitive to anything that encourages yeast or candida production, having had far too many antibiotics in my life. I am allergic to all nuts as well as sesame, however I do love and actually usually manage to eat lots of sunflower seeds.

Any suggestions, experience or commiserations?

Bea

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Some yoga poses will exacerbate sciatica, so you may need to work with someone who is good with modifications (a yoga therapist if you can find one). Exactly what exacerbates it will depend on what the problem is. Tight glutes/external rotators? Continuing compression of a disc exacerbated by poor posture? Different leg lengths (OR SI/pelvic length on either side)? Pure nerve issues? Chronic inflammation over an old injury? (These aren't really independent of each other - one can contribute to another, of course.)

I would also second the idea of working with a *good* chiropractor. Perhaps finding one with a background in physical therapy as well. Ask around for a lot of recommendations and find one that doesn't just have you come in to "crack your back" every week, but gives you exercises (and traction, if appropriate) to do to help your body properly heal.

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I have found gentle stretching and daily walking to be helpful in lessening sciatica attacks. Just generally anything that creates more flexibility in the lower body seems to help. One of the stretches that tends to help me is sitting down with the soles of my feet together and gently bending down over my legs.

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I have a DVD that I swear by: Back in Shape by Mimi Solaire.

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I third the chiro suggestion. Mine is, according to the 'net, one of "those crazies" who, yes, believes that it's possible to cure things by healing your nerves. He knows that is, well, vaguely quackish. But he listens to what's going on, which more than many chiropractors will do and he manipulates things so that I feel better. And hey, my sciatic nerve isn't irritated anymore and my migraines abate dramatically when I see him. That's all I ask for; I can tolerate a bit of quackery in the process.

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Thank you everyone for all your great suggestions!

I think I should get back to using fresh ground flax seed like I used to and take my fish oil more consistently. I do take primrose oil regularly. I also think I need to use regular oils more too to help build up my nerves. Get some more coconut oil etc. Maybe even do a little baking or make pancakes again. I seem to also have little nerve bumps in my perineum that get soothed by the St. John's Wort...My flaky itchy ears too are soothed and healed by the St. John's Wort too. Its so weird!

I had severe damage to my L-5 vertebrae from the structure of a large wall that fell on me when I was 6. I was untreated for that for 30 years and then saw a whole series of chrios and massage therapists for a long long while. The accident broke off the back three wings of that vertebrae even though it amazingly did not cause a slipped disc.

I had been in great shape beforehand which I think saved me from becoming paralyzed (which I have been told could have happened). Before the accident I imagined myself as either a ballerina or gymnast--I was that strong and flexible. Afterward I had recurring dreamas in fact that I was paralyzed and couldn't leave the burning living room when I was a child (symbolic for the wall falling on me I am certain since it was for the same room) even though I otherwise canceled the event from my consciousness. I used to do the splits and cartwheels etc. before the accident.

Have seen chiros off and on for years, though honestly I try now not to see them too often due to the expense. I have a very flexible body so I try to use it to get myself back into alignment. Unfortunately the accident left jagged bone though the broken off wings have by now disintegrated. Its possible some cartelidge is left however and is gumming up the works occasionally and irritating my sciatic nerves. Besides stretching I now think strengthening is de rigeur as I age. My body tends to be over-flexible actually, though the stretching seems to be necessary to get it back into alignment and/or keep it. I have a mass of scar tissue over the L-5 site that probably is slowly becoming a little less due to my taking nattokinase every day for scar tissue elsewhere as well as helping to keep my blood from clotting too easily (as it otherwise does) and keep my blood vessels clear.

Have been doing the bent knee over the side with the foot on the floor and stretching it using my opposing hand, and then the one where its more up in the air while bent. It usually makes my body jerk around; when it does and then calms down a little I know its helping. Having someone else gradually push it down is a great idea I want to start doing more consistently. A new boyfriend actually did that for me a couple of times and it did really help amazingly well! I just have to make sure I do it every day!! As well as walking etc.

There are certain yoga moves I don't do, but as suggested I probably should see someone again to see if there is anything extra I can do or if I am doing something wrong. I am after all now trying to strengthen the total hip/leg area. Its slow going and I am approaching new moves gingerly.

Am thinking of trying some squats which in the past have been impossible for me. I would love to be able to dance for instance without it throwing out my sacrum and thus hips and leg length.

I also use a sacro wedgy device to help the sacrum go back in place. But yes sometimes I do have to see the chiro anyway. Recently I have started bending backwards from a sitting knees bent and feet under me move with elbows behind me which I suppose could be aggravating something though its helping unstick cartelidge in my upper mid back. I got a backwards bending device too that I can just lie on that I should use more...

I have bent far forwards for years using the plow (which actually feels great!) with my legs over my head and onto the floor; whereas the sitting bending forward I am also now starting to do is much harder. The sitting and bending forward could be aggravating something I suppose...

I also do the feet together knees bent wide and gradually push down my knees fairly close to the floor. Doesn't hurt and actually feels good. I really can be a pretzel still despite all... Now I want to be a strong pretzel esp. since my nerves were damaged physically as well as by long term lack of absorption of minerals and vitamins due to the celiac.

I like the idea of getting one of those yoga styrofoam rollers for my hips that was mentioned. Where might a good place be to purchase one?

Again thank you everyone. Many of these are good suggestions and reminders!

Bea

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Bea,

The DVD I mentioned is made specifically for people who can't do a lot of moves. It goes slowly and is also good for people who have thrown their back out, etc.

I've used it when I've thrown my back out and it feels so good. If I can't get down on the floor then I do it in the bedroom while still in bed.

There are two routines, each only 15 minutes. The first one is particularly good if you are in a lot of pain.

If you order it from that online book place that everyone knows, you can always return it if you don't like it --

By the way, if you read the reviews there, some folks complain about a background noise on the DVD. It's not background noise or problems with the DVD, it's the sound of ocean waves (this was filmed by the ocean). It is very soothing and relaxing.

Sending love and sympathy.

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Chances are - and if your chiro is good, he/she can help you determine if this is the case - your flexibility may not be helping the issue. Well, it helps, but it has the downside - too much mobility. With the damage to the SI joint and L5, it could be even more tricky, since joints that are already hypermobile are also not whole.

You talk about a couple of different yoga poses you're doing that can certain be problematic, if not done with really good form. Plow is often great, but if you don't have the abdominal strength and back/shoulder strength to hold a good shoulderstand, I would encourage you to back off from it until you develop that. Especially if you're flexible, it can be easy to collapse the front body - torso and chest - to get the feet to the ground overhead. You want to keep the waist VERY long, hips reaching away from the floor just as strongly as they do in shoulderstand, to support the pose and to find that the spine can stay fairly neutral (not go into flexion) and the hips are the hinge point. The pose *can* bring a lot of release to the low back, but it can be at the expense of overflexion on the lumbar spine, particularly in the L5-S1 area.

Below is an example of a modification if the back can't stay straight (really, close to neutral) when the feet come to the floor.

2479644024_99e662bcb7_m.jpg

The seated forward fold is much the same way - if you have a low back injury, it's generally better to keep the back relatively neutral, or be *extraordinarily cautious* and *extraordinarily aware* when doing a forward fold. Paschimottanasana is challenging for most people, and it's also *quite* common for the sacrum/hips to "stick", and not get movement in those joints, overloading the lumbar spine (and sometimes thoracic) instead. You can see in the picture below, my low back *is* rounded, and this is *not* the version I would do for someone with a low back injury until they were certain that it would not cause problems. This sort of straight, closed leg pose, especially if the legs aren't saying completely neutral in the hip socket, can aggravate sciatica. (The same is true of down dog, which can be modified to turn the toes out and bend the knees as an alternative.)

2346433705_2e43c6735e_m.jpg

You also mention a variation on supta virasana. (Backbend while sitting on the heels.) The picture I am putting below is camel (ustrasana - standing on the knees, not sitting on the heels), and I would highly recommend, if you must work on deep backbends, starting with this one, with the thighs staying against the wall. Just backbending from this position is highly likely to compress the low back, particularly if you are keeping focus on just the mid back between the shoulderblades. Don't get me wrong - you want to keep focus there, but more on the sense of lifting the chest towards the ceiling, and keeping the low back as long and spacious as possible.

2346436233_240553744f_m.jpg

It's not that any particular pose can't be done with either hypermobility or a low back injury (or both ;) ), but rather that you need to come into it properly, maintain the optimum actions (internal work of the muscles), and know where your body is when it's in good alignment (proprioception). This is one of the reasons I stress working with teachers. (It's really not just to drum up business for fellow teachers. :) ) Things like pigeon, especially if not properly, can either be greatly beneficial, or a HUGE aggravation, particularly to the SI area.

I know, I know... I've gone on and on... it's what I do if you start talking about yoga! :)

Where are you located? There's a chance I might be able to direct you to someone. (Small, small chance, but nonzero. :) )

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I like the idea of getting one of those yoga styrofoam rollers for my hips that was mentioned. Where might a good place be to purchase one?

I bought mine at REI, but you might also find one on the internet.

All the best,Megan

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Chances are - and if your chiro is good, he/she can help you determine if this is the case - your flexibility may not be helping the issue. Well, it helps, but it has the downside - too much mobility. With the damage to the SI joint and L5, it could be even more tricky, since joints that are already hypermobile are also not whole.

You talk about a couple of different yoga poses you're doing that can certain be problematic, if not done with really good form. Plow is often great, but if you don't have the abdominal strength and back/shoulder strength to hold a good shoulderstand, I would encourage you to back off from it until you develop that. Especially if you're flexible, it can be easy to collapse the front body - torso and chest - to get the feet to the ground overhead. You want to keep the waist VERY long, hips reaching away from the floor just as strongly as they do in shoulderstand, to support the pose and to find that the spine can stay fairly neutral (not go into flexion) and the hips are the hinge point. The pose *can* bring a lot of release to the low back, but it can be at the expense of overflexion on the lumbar spine, particularly in the L5-S1 area.

Below is an example of a modification if the back can't stay straight (really, close to neutral) when the feet come to the floor.

2479644024_99e662bcb7_m.jpg

The seated forward fold is much the same way - if you have a low back injury, it's generally better to keep the back relatively neutral, or be *extraordinarily cautious* and *extraordinarily aware* when doing a forward fold. Paschimottanasana is challenging for most people, and it's also *quite* common for the sacrum/hips to "stick", and not get movement in those joints, overloading the lumbar spine (and sometimes thoracic) instead. You can see in the picture below, my low back *is* rounded, and this is *not* the version I would do for someone with a low back injury until they were certain that it would not cause problems. This sort of straight, closed leg pose, especially if the legs aren't saying completely neutral in the hip socket, can aggravate sciatica. (The same is true of down dog, which can be modified to turn the toes out and bend the knees as an alternative.)

2346433705_2e43c6735e_m.jpg

You also mention a variation on supta virasana. (Backbend while sitting on the heels.) The picture I am putting below is camel (ustrasana - standing on the knees, not sitting on the heels), and I would highly recommend, if you must work on deep backbends, starting with this one, with the thighs staying against the wall. Just backbending from this position is highly likely to compress the low back, particularly if you are keeping focus on just the mid back between the shoulderblades. Don't get me wrong - you want to keep focus there, but more on the sense of lifting the chest towards the ceiling, and keeping the low back as long and spacious as possible.

2346436233_240553744f_m.jpg

It's not that any particular pose can't be done with either hypermobility or a low back injury (or both ;) ), but rather that you need to come into it properly, maintain the optimum actions (internal work of the muscles), and know where your body is when it's in good alignment (proprioception). This is one of the reasons I stress working with teachers. (It's really not just to drum up business for fellow teachers. :) ) Things like pigeon, especially if not properly, can either be greatly beneficial, or a HUGE aggravation, particularly to the SI area.

I know, I know... I've gone on and on... it's what I do if you start talking about yoga! :)

Where are you located? There's a chance I might be able to direct you to someone. (Small, small chance, but nonzero. :) )

thank you Tiffany for your informative description of yoga postures with pictures. I have had yoga instruction in the past and try not to go past my limits too often. The back bends I do is less aggravating on the hips than the one you show. I use a large ball or this special back flexion device I lie on for the one. The other I use my elbows to support my efforts so it takes the pressure off my low back while still unsticking the problem in my upper middle back. Even when I see a chiropractor it doesn't last as effectively as when I do it myself for the upper mid back actually. As far as the plow goes, I have also been vetted both by one of my chiropractors as well as a friend who teaches yoga. I am very short waisted which may help give me some structural balance since there isn't much space between my ribs and hips. I can only fit in two fingers between them, with effort at that! The plow always makes me feel better rather than worse. My chiro said it made sense that it would.

I also now do modified push ups (knees down) and sit ups (knees up on a chair). Since I have been taking the E-zorb calcium again with MSM and Silica as well as my usual trace minerals and mag citrate and zinc, I have been getting stronger tendons. So now I can do the push ups etc. though I have been going up slow on it just to make sure I don't injure myself like I used to all too easily, even just from walking my mom's dog etc.

I am just now starting to take flax seed oil and/or fresh ground up flax seed and am eating more fish. When I remember I take cod liver oil, even though I was warned in the past from taking much of it since I had too much in my system. I eat lots of sunflower seeds which seems to also help since I tend to be low on B-1. This is why I take co-enzyme B complex from country life since otherwise I am very low on my ability to absorb B's using standard types of vitamins.

I am finding that having someone push on my legs slowly in the over the knee to the floor with the other leg straight out is really helping me, especially if they massage my sensitive butt and the hot line of the sciatic nerve going towards my knee. Afterward I massage my calves.

Why its all acting up right now I don't know. Its not usually this bad. Maybe I should stop doing the sitting on the floor with legs extended forward and then bending forward and holding my feet. They seem to be the hardest for me to do. In the past I just didn't do them for the very reason you suggested--since they seem to have aggravated my old injury stuff. I thought maybe I was over the worst due to my other exercises strengthening me--but I could well be wrong. So am thinking of just dropping that exercise. Sitting on couches also probably needs to be completely out--which I have done recently. In the past I always either sat on the floor on on one of the firm(er) arms.

However it comes down, it seems once activated my sciatic nerves take their bloody time to calm down. Last night I hardly slept again up until my new bf helped stretch and massage me--at 6:00 AM (he was out like a light beforehand--I even took my relaxant herbs but they didn't work). So here I am with 2 hours sleep. Am finally going to take a siesta after a hot bath...I hope! Am also thinking I need to get out my sacro wedgy and see if lying on it helps. My feet length seems even right now but nevertheless there could be a twist or something in there given how wiggy my sacrum can get.

I am very tempted to go gets some AMA muscle relaxants until this passes, while continuing to do my exercises and walking--but of course I honestly hate taking that stuff since its hard on my previously damaged kidneys plus makes me all dopey the next day.

Just also wanted to tell you that despite all my past experience, you are right, it wouldn't hurt to have another yoga person vet me. I live in San Jose, CA if you care to send along a recommended yoga person who won't charge me an arm and a leg.

Bea

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