Should I be concerned about unbearable sciatica? - Pain Concern

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Should I be concerned about unbearable sciatica?



Firstly I'm 25 years old, female and obese. I am also not living in UK and my timezone is GMT+8 (it's 3pm for me right now).

I had a slipped disc surgery April 2019 because the pain was unbearable and my bulging disc was height: 9mm, depth: 8mm and width: 12mm with 30% central canal narrowing. The surgery was a success and everything was fine till this year.

In June 2020, I had a severe back muscle strain that landed me in the ER because I could only stand and sit in a awkward 90 degree angle. I could not lie down or stand straight. I was sent home with painkillers and things did get better. Except every month, for a day or two, I will have the exact same issue. Painkillers helped me a lot. I was not concerned about this, thinking maybe cause I am obese.

However since 9 Nov (2 weeks go), I had sciatica down my left leg (again). I thought it would be for a while, but by 4 days later, the pain was unbearable I could not stop crying - hence another trip to the ER. It was extremely painful till the ankle and I could feel the whole calf/ankle throbbing. Doctor did a Straight Leg Test, and there was pain at 30 degrees. He suspected slipped disc and sent me home with tramadol and an orthopaedic appointment on 4 Dec (2 weeks from now).

What concerned me is, yesterday at 6pm, I took tramadol (50mg). I woke up because of pain at 12 am and realised I could not lift my left leg at all. Or maybe only for 5 cm. The only comfortable position is kneeling down on fours and after a while the pain subsided, so I headed back to sleep. I awoke this morning with the pain gone down by 50% but when I was on the way to the toilet, I urinated myself because I just somehow could not control my bladder.

I am aware of Cauda Equina Syndrome. I don't have numbness/saddle anesthesia. I am able to pee if I want to. It was just this one incident I could not hold my pee. Now, I feel fine leg-wise thanks to the tramadol, but my upper buttock is aching. Should I be heading to an ER again or should I just wait for the appointment on 4 Dec? I just don't want to risk it.

8 Replies

Go to the ER immediately, you can’t take risks , be sure to tell them everything and about your concerns, best wishes

I agree, ER is the best idea, as you have what are known as red flags. Better to be safe than sorry!

I have had slow onset CE, I just slowly had more and more issues with my bladder and slowly became numb in the saddle area. My pain specialist referred me to a neuro surgeon who operated immediately. It could be that, which can become an emergency immediately. If all is well again now bladder wise you could have that in which case it takes a while but gets just worse all the time. A&E May finally refer you for an MRI. As you got control again they may equally tell you to wait for the appointment and send you home again. I suppose you have nothing to loose by going.

Hi soz about it pain plz go straight back to the we and tell them as it sounds like u need an emergency op.

Best to do what you think best , as long as you can control your bladder, l too have had siatica as I had it for a long time so very painful, lam waiting for a spinal op anytime soon . Been waiting over 2 years. Tramadol did not touch my pain. Best thing I have to use is heat and ice ... hope you get to be seen a lot quicker then me take care xx

Hi everyone, thank you for the replies! I went to the ER and they checked by probing my butthole and said I was fine, they just sent me home with more painkillers. I guess I will just wait for the appointment on 4 Dec. I don't have bladder issues anymore. But what bugs me is every night, when I lay down, my ankle and calf will be in intense throbbing pain, I upped my tramadol to 100 mg and take it with Lyrica just to be drowsy enough to sleep, this pain is really unbearable. I wish all of you with sciatica the best, it is not an easy journey. May we get through this together 🙏

If you are in the US the ER is probably not going to help you much. It is concerning and I'm not telling you not to go but I have a feeling they're going to tell you to wait and see your doctor. Unfortunately surgeries don't always work and when they work they don't always last. Sciatic pain is generally tingling or an electrical feeling or feeling like bugs are on you but never numbness or throbbing pain. And I'm not saying it's not very painful because it really is and frankly Tramadol is like taking baby aspirin. In the US those of us in chronic pain are being tortured because of this misapplication of restrictions because of an opiate crisis. I always feel so sad for people like you who are so young and already starting out with back problems. It's probably going to end up being a lifelong problem and it's something that you'll probably want to get with a pain management doctor. If this is sciatica or a pinched nerve Gabapentin or pregabalin are two medications that help some people quite a bit. And they're not narcotics. I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope I'm wrong about a lot of what I said.

Moorose in reply to Amkoffee

Hi, you're right, the ER couldn't help much. I'm currently in so much pain, especially in my ankle, I upped my tramadol from to 100mg, which seems to be the only way the pain goes down at least by 50%. Thankfully this week I am working from home. I spend 3-4 hours in the morning crying from the pain. And my boss keeps looking for me. It's really not an easy journey because people around me don't understand how it feels like to be be in this chronic pain at 25 years old. It's not easy to maintain a job, relationship, or do anything at all. There is no comfortable position to sit, lie or even stand. But this forum does make me feel a bit better. At least there is a place I could say what I have been feeling these few weeks. Thank you for reading my post and replying. 😁

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