/ climbing with siatica pain

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Janine Lane - on 09 Jan 2013
Hi I have currently siactica in both legs and lower back< is there anyone out there who climbs with the same problem and how to deal with it?? im in pain all the time, some one said it should help the spine stretch when climbing if the indoor climbing routes are easy nothing hard.
Is there anyone out there with some advice. thanks lots janine lane
Christheclimber - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:

Hi, I have suffered with a lower back problem and referred sciatica for many years. I find that as long as I am climbing regularly the pain is manageable, it is much worse when I stop climbing and have a few weeks off. Climbing helps stretch my back and the associated muscles relieving pain. Start easy at the climbing wall and then you will be able to increase your grade when you feel more confident that you will not hurt yourself.
JM - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: I recently got a bout of sciatica at the start of a climbing holiday to Turkey which was annoying. In the first few days it was agony to bend down and put on my climbing shoes. I have to admit I just took 400mg of Ibuprofen every four hours for a few days and eventually it disappeared. A stretch I find good is this one http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=leg+stretches&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1020&bih=4...

and also deep massaging your buttock by sitting and rolling around on a tennis ball!
martinph78 on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: I am presuming that you are seeing a physio or a specialist?

I had sciatica last year and was due to go in for surgery but it "fixed itself" at the climbing wall. Something just felt funny as I went over an overhang. I lowered off feeling a bit unstable, went home, then realised that I wasn't in pain.

The physio recommended I exercised, but I needed a stick to walk, and couldn't cycle or run or lift anything. If you can manage to climb at the wall I would do so as I believe that keeping active as much as possible is key. The problem for me was the tablets that I were on made me sick, lethargic, and I lost all coordination and balance. I dropped so many cups and regularly fell over so climbing was out for a while!

It's a horrible thing to have, and I hope it gets better for you soon. I've had two injurys now, and both took a long time to fix, but they did. Exercise was key on both occassions.



JohnnyW - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:

I'm just getting over my last bout, and whilst my back is still a bit sore, I got some advice off here about piriformis stretches, which my wife helps me with now. Just YouTube'd it and got loads to choose from.

Dunno if it's placebo, but so far so good.
Tony Naylor on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:
As others have said, staying active really helps. My sciatica comes creeping back if I lay off the training. I was given two exercises (one by a physio, the other by a pilates instructor) which helped.

1) Sit upright in a dining chair or similar (not a big squishy armchair) with both feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Drop your chin to your chest then raise the shin on the affected leg until it's horizontal. Point your toes towards your chin. Relax, then repeat.

2) Stand upright with your feet together. Cross the foot on the affected leg behind the other foot and bring it forward so the shin contacts the calf. Tip your chin to your chest then bend slowly and touch your toes (or as near as you can get). You can keep your hands on your legs for support on the way down. Hold for as long as you can, then stand and repeat. This is a big powerful stretch for the glute, hamstring, and calf. Worked a treat for me.
Janine Lane - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Christheclimber: Hi Thanks for advice really helps
Trina B - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: been suffering from mild sciatica myself, so thanks for those exercises from me too!
Janine Lane - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Martin1978: thanks for your advice very helpful feeling more positive
Ciro - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:

I've just recovered from my third slipped disk - the first one took about 12 months to fix, the second (more severe) 18 months, this one (most severe yet, and first time I actually had to phone an ambulance) 3 months.

The big difference this time? The physio had me performing (often painful) stretches right from the start, whereas in the past I protected the area so much that by the time the disc was back in place, the muscles were too tight causing sciatic pain that was indistinguishable from that caused by the disc.

So as others have said, get a good physio, do as many glute, hamstring and lower back stretches as you can, and stay as active as possible.

Climbing may feel like it's aggravating, but after a session, ice the lower back/buttock area heavily and see how it feels in the morning - this will give you a much better indicator of whether or not you're causing any problems than how it feels immediately afterwards.

Also, make sure you do some stretching at the end of the session, followed by a few minutes in a good rest position - for me, flat on my back with my knees raised, soles of the feet on the floor, and core engaged to tilt the pelvis back a bit, flattening the lower back to the floor a little works wonders.

Good luck with the rehab!
MeMeMe - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro:

Hi, can I ask, does a slipped disk just eventually sort itself out by itself?

I'm currently on week of pain meds before my GP hopefully decides to refer me to somebody who knows a bit about backs...

Mark Kemball - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: I suffered badly from sciatica last spring. Initially, strong painkillers and anti-inflamatories allowed some mobility, a few visits to a cranio-sacral therapist put me on the road to recovery (expensive, but money well spent), then exercices from "A Back Sufferer's Bible" http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0091814944/?tag=hydra0b-21&hvadid=9557944389&ref=asc_df_009181494... sorted me out. I still get twinges which get worse if I go for a few days without doing the exeercises (which reminds me...).
lost1977 - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro:

- for me, flat on my back with my knees raised, soles of the feet on the floor, and core engaged to tilt the pelvis back a bit, flattening the lower back to the floor a little works wonders.
>

I know the position well whenever i get back problems and it tightens up when in a position for too long this always gets me moving again, also works pretty well with feet/lower legs resting on the seat of a chair

Ciro - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to MeMeMe:
> (In reply to Ciro)
>
> Hi, can I ask, does a slipped disk just eventually sort itself out by itself?
>
> I'm currently on week of pain meds before my GP hopefully decides to refer me to somebody who knows a bit about backs...

I'm no doctor, but as I understand it a disk that's bulging a little may settle back into place, but if it's slipped then no, it's unlikely to just fix itself without the help of a physio at least, and the sooner you start the treatment the better.

Did your GP do the straight leg test? If they didn't then they should have - it's a simple and fairly definitive test - and if they did and it was positive they should have referred you right away in my opinion (but never do, luckily my corporate health insurance takes a different view).

That said, a week of rest won't do any harm, so long as you don't have any pain urinating or defacating, or loss of control of either function - these are all emergency conditions that require an immediate trip to A&E.
Tradlad - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to MeMeMe: Sometimes they do. Ive suffered for the last four years with slipped discs on and off, had a steroid injection and was offered an operation to cut the disc out etc. , .....I highly recommend Yoga as this has helped me and two friends who suffer with herniated discs . I think if you can take the pain then keep off the pills from the doctors as these only mask the pain and you can do more damage that way from my personal experience. I made the decision not to have an operation, the steriod works but its painful as hell when they put that needle in your lower back.

Most importantly , once your over the worst of it, listen to your body, be mindful of body positions IE lifting, bike riding , climbing, sitting- you'll soon find out whats good and whats not so good for you.. I find climbing vertical or overhanging limestone far better for My back ( i get a good stretch out) that climbing rounded grit routes ( lots of compression) , and bouldering it out of the question just incase i fall and bugger my back up - but then again we are all different.

Oh yeah- get hold of a hula hoop and use it or do the motion - they are amazing for your lower back and also great fun :O)


Good luck and hope you made a full recovery .

Ady
Mark Kemball - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Tradlad:
>...I think if you can take the pain then keep off the pills from the doctors as these only mask the pain and you can do more damage that way from my personal experience...

Pain killers, muscle relaxants and anti-inflamatories (all prescription strength, so you'll need to see your doctor) are really useful at the start of a programme of self treatment through appropriate exercises. Again, I'd really recommend reading the final chapter of Sarah Key's "Back Sufferers' Bible", which gives you a programme of what to do, even if you only skim read the other chapters.
hola - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: If you have pain in both legs i would be very carefull. i had a disectomy on disc L5 after months of debilitating numbness and pain. Some of the numbness has never left due to nerve damage and will probably never return
I would recomend the book 'treat your own back' by Robert Mckenzie.
The best yoga moves for myself are the cat or the snake. i would be very alarmed if a physio recommended any foreward bending from the waist as a stretch this is just the position to force the disc to bulge even more and further compress the delicate nerves in your spine.
If you catch it early you can recover completley from a mild disc bulge they dont really slip or you can just carry on like i did and end up in hospital
MeMeMe - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro:
> (In reply to MeMeMe)
>
> Did your GP do the straight leg test? If they didn't then they should have - it's a simple and fairly definitive test - and if they did and it was positive they should have referred you right away in my opinion (but never do, luckily my corporate health insurance takes a different view).

Not sure what the straight leg test is but don't think he did it.
He did have a look to see if my leg was still working as half my foot has gone numb.
Didn't actually examine my back now I think of it.

> That said, a week of rest won't do any harm, so long as you don't have any pain urinating or defacating, or loss of control of either function - these are all emergency conditions that require an immediate trip to A&E.

He did say that at least!
MeMeMe - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Tradlad:


> Oh yeah- get hold of a hula hoop and use it or do the motion - they are amazing for your lower back and also great fun :O)

You clearly haven't seen me try to use one.
There's only so much exercise I can get in the 2 seconds it from when I start it to it falling to the floor, I think I have some kind of hip coordination issue!

>
>
> Good luck and hope you made a full recovery .

Thanks!
Ciro - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to MeMeMe:
> (In reply to Ciro)
> [...]
>
> Not sure what the straight leg test is but don't think he did it.

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00534#Doctor%20Examination

> Didn't actually examine my back now I think of it.

Doctors tend not to, because they don't know what they're looking for anyway. This time my GP gave me anti-inflamatories without any examination, I had to phone an ambulance the next day because I got stuck and couldn't move, and despite telling them I hadn't suffered a trauma they gave me an x-ray (can't diagnose slipped disc), didn't give me an MRI (which does), and sent me home with a bottle of morphine, telling me it was just a muscle spasm, again without any sort of physical examination.

Two days later, the physio told me she'd never seen a patient with such a severely herniated disc still walking.

It's bloody infuriating - if I hadn't known what was going on from previous experience, I'd have followed the doctors instructions and been weeks or months on opiates before I saw someone who could treat me.
pamph - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro: Yes it can be worrying that GPs don't understand severe back problems. I ended up in A and E on Christmas day 2011 with a ruptured disc(C7/T1) despite having been to my GP two weeks before with severe back/neck pain. I was sent away with the morphine and anti-inflammatories but woke up on Christmas day in excrutuiating pain as the disc finally leaked into my spine and trapped the nerve to my right arm and hand. A year on and I am still suffering although I had opted not to have the operation to remove the damaged disc. This was seven months after the initial problem. I had to pay for own MRI scan as well! I now have what is basically sciatica in my right arm and hand, and can't run or cycle anymore. Climbing helps though, thank God!
BolderLicious - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:
I was diagnosed with scoliosis (slight kink in my upper spine)
when I was 15 years old.I didn't notice it when I climbed regularly.
It got worse when I stopped climbing!
martinph78 on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:
> (In reply to Martin1978) thanks for your advice very helpful feeling more positive

Cool :)

I got some excellent support from a couple of members of the forum when I was at my worst. It really helped, I was suffering badly from depression as a result of it and the medication. Not a good place to be.

You gotta maintain as much normality as you can and as everyone else above is testifying to, keep active as much as you can. I know many folk think it's "just back pain" and don't realise how painful it is, and how it doesn't just happen when you lift something.

When you get sorted drop me an email and I'll send you some information that I've learned about movement, and resetting the nervous system. Your body will be out of balance as you will be compensating a lot by favouring one side and not using muscles on the other for example. You won't be aware of this but your body will be doing it all of the time just to maintain posture and balance whilst standing or walking. It puts alsorts of joints out of alignment, reduces flexibility one side etc. It'll take a while to rehabilitate that as well but it's worth doing (I found anyway).

All the best,
Martin
nniff - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane:

Give it a go - I'm currently fine, but in the past i've been climbing when the hardest bit is putting my shoes on and i'm then climbing at pretty much my usual limit. Taking them off again afterwards is far easier.
MeMeMe - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro:

Well unfortunately I've got much worse since Monday.
I had to stop the ibuprofen because they were causing me to bleed and was just on paracetamol which didn't really touch the pain.

So then on Friday I went from sore to walk about and okay lying on my back to being unable to walk and in agony when lying on my back so called the doctor and they prescribed more drugs including something to relax my muscles.
A bit better now but not able to get around let alone climb!

Have a telephone appointment tomorrow so will get them to refer me to somebody who knows about backs!
climber_medic - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane I suffer with lower back pain that comes and goes, although I am currently suffering with it at the moment. Although mine has been diagnosed so I know what to do with it when it flares up. Best thing the physio prescribes is ice. So get a bag of ice and put it on the affected area for 10 mins wrapped in a tea towel (not on bare skin) Then take it off for 20 mins putting it back into the freezer. Finally back on for another 10. Try that 3 times a day as it helps take away any inflammation. Oh and instead of sitting I've personally found that keeping it mobile by doing little walks helps no end.

Hope this helps
spadge - on 13 Jan 2013
Just keep moving about, standing, sitting etc. you will find a position that eases the pain for you. Pre-empt the pain before you climb by taking pain killers and anti inflammatories as prescribed by your GP. Herniated (slipped discs in lay mans terms) aren't always the problem. 25% of people who were x-rayed in the old days when it was ethical to just x-ray for studies had slipped discs were asymptomatic !! Sometimes it's just a matter of time to pass before the pain settles, beware of tingling, or numbness and pain on urinating and number 2's. Opiod based painkillers can make you constipated, and increase back pain when going to the loo! In reply to further along this thread tingling in the foot is a fairly good indicator for a GP that you have a back problem, depending where on the foot will help to diagnose which joint(a) are playing up. The areas are called dermatomes! Good luck with the climbing, try to handle the pain as best as you can. The prognoses is not good for those who rest for too long to avoid further pain. Please keep moving gently and within your limits!!
DaveFidler on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to spadge: Good advice.
I have sciatica pretty much constantly but continue to climb regularly and at my limit. Doctors and physios have told me that pain will be the only limit in terms of what I can try (and I have three fully slipped discs), so if it gets painful I just take some painkillers an carry on.

I've found the pain is lessened when you stretch the back and leg regularly, which is nice :)

Good luck in climbing and managing your pain!
Tony Simpson - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to MeMeMe:

If you are in that much trouble your doctor should be referring you to a specialist and for an MRI. I had issues with my back and all these pains etc some years ago now.
When I eventually saw my surgeon he could not believe I was still walking let alone running climbing, but have to say prescribed heavy duty painkillers allowed me to. He told me I should have been in a wheel chair with a catheter fitted my prolapsed disc was so bad. Had an op within 7 days and it was like someone had flicked a switch. Was able to stand completely upright, look straight ahead instead of down at the floor and when I started climbing agin I could heel hook without my upper body loosing all power and ability.

Make a fuss get your self sorted.
Ciro - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to MeMeMe:

It can feel pretty desperate, but can also be resolved surprisingly quickly with the right treatment.

I was where you are just three months ago - disk went on the sunday, painkillers from the doc on the monday, tuesday I got stuck on all fours in my bedroom for 8 hours till someone came home to phone an ambulance.

2 days later I saw the physio, was swimming within two weeks, gentle climbing in under a month, and yesterday I was projecting a 7c without any complaints from the back.

Personally, I would avoid surgery until I was sure the physio wasn't going to work - the specialist I saw the last time told me he could guarantee to cure my problem with disc surgery but even if it went well the scar tissue could interfere with my climbing. Since I'd read that the disk can fully heal itself up to the age of 60 I stuck with the physio and yoga, and it worked.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Dave - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Ciro:

> I'm no doctor, but as I understand it a disk that's bulging a little may settle back into place, but if it's slipped then no, it's unlikely to just fix itself without the help of a physio at least, and the sooner you start the treatment the better.

Slipped disc is a misnomer, discs don't slip, they bulge out or herniate to different degrees. It's very topical in our houshold at the moment as my missus had spinal surgery last week to relieve a badly herniated disc. To the original poster.... I'd get it carefully checked out, if it's a herniated disc then pressure from stretching could potentially make it worse.


Dave - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave:

And I meant to add that the surgery immediately relieved the pain but left some residual leg weakness which is resolving. My neurosurgeon friend who does spine ops says its important to get a good surgeon, he does many ops repairing earlier poorly done ones.
chers - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Janine Lane: Thought I has sciatica...doc says its muscular, luckily and has referred me to physio. Oddly, since then, its hardly hurt :)

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.