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Maybe Sciatica

Posted by Dorothy on 11/25/03 at 01:25 (138595)

I would very much like to know if anyone here has foot/heel/leg pain that is related to sciatica or back problems. Anybody?? I would like to hear about it if you know that is what your situation is/was.
I am beginning to strongly suspect that my foot problems - and lately ankle, calf, and many other points of the compass - are tied to sciatica or back problems. I think it might not be the ONLY cause because there were other precipitating factors that timing tells me were either causative or contributory, but the back and/or sciatica have either come into play or were part of the original problem. Anyway - I do go on, don't I? - anybody, anybody have these issues to deal with??
This has been a tough week body-wise and I know I'm not the only one here who can say that. Tonight I got out the trusty massager with infrared and used it until my hand and arm were falling off. Now I have a brand new problem! Hand and arm that fell off. Oh, well....

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Julie on 11/25/03 at 07:03 (138607)


First, screw your arm back on. :)

The trigger for my case of PF was a minor back injury which resulted in impingement of the sciatic nerve. The classic 'sciatica' is of course pain down the back of the thigh, but the nerve is very complex, and also has branches which supply the lower leg and foot. My PF began two weeks after the 'impingement', and I suspected the connection. When I first saw my podiatrist he agreed that I was right to suspect it, and told me that he believes MOST cases of plantar fasciitis (including his own) are the effect of low back problems.

I can't remember if you've told us before that you have back problems, but reading your post I would say you are on to something. And I would guess that more people are dealing with the connected foot and back issues you describe than perhaps are aware of it. The problem here is that health care has become so specialised: there are foot doctors and there are back doctors, and never the twain...But the foot, leg, hip and back are a continuum - anything that happens to one part of it is likely to affect the rest.

Causative? Contributory? It's the classic chicken-and-egg situation.

I would advise you, or anyone else who suspects a connection between their sore feet and their back, to search for a good osteopath or chiropractor (the latter discipline is more prevalent in the States, I think) - someone who knows about structure, looks at the body as a whole, and understands the relationships between its various parts.

I hope this is useful.

Re: Maybe Sciatica

john h on 11/25/03 at 09:43 (138625)

Dorothy: I had low back surgery L5/S1, L4/L5 (laminectomy and partial removal of disc on one side) about 24 years ago. I developed PF about 15 years later. None of the foot Doctors incluing Orothopedic Surgeons thought there was any connection with my back and foot problems. When I had a nerve conduction test on my feet performed by a Doctor I specifically asked him if he could detect any nerve problems related to my back. He said no. Like you, I still wonder but tend to think they are separate.. I guess you would have to do a large survey of people who have PF and see how many of them have back problems..

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Dorothy on 11/25/03 at 12:57 (138634)

Yes, it does, as your notes always do. I am so reluctant to step into the mainstream medical arena and will do almost anything to avoid doing so. Other than a severe infection obviously requiring antibiotics or a broken bone, I hope to avoid 'official medicaldom'. Luddite or medieval mentality? Probably.

There really aren't a lot of exercises specific to sciatica, but it is a more specific situation than the more generalized back/hamstring/gluteus/knee exercises. If you know of any, do let me know.
I know that when things are very 'active', I avoid 'downward dog' and some other yoga postures. Sorry for the rambling here; I think it reflects state of mind today!

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Dorothy on 11/25/03 at 14:37 (138650)

Thanks for your feedback, John. I tend to think more of how connected all of our body parts are and how anything and everything in one area must affect another area. I am hoping that my question here of people who have PF will generate more responses, but maybe it won't and that could be due to many things. Thanks again. By the way, how have you been feeling now that a month or so has passed since your hike up the mountain?

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Julie on 11/25/03 at 16:01 (138675)

Dorothy, does your first line mean that you haven't got a podiatrist?

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Kathy G on 11/25/03 at 17:20 (138697)


It appears from posts to these boards, over the years, that PF can indeed cause sciatica due to the different way that we walk when our feet hurt. Either than or there are an awful lot of people who have sciatica and PF. Seems to much of a coincidence to me.

I had my first attack of sciatica when I was nineteen years old and I thought I was dying. It stands out so distinctly in my mind. I was living at home, going to college and I didn't want to awaken anyone so I stupidly didn't even take a tylenol. I didn't sleep a wink. Back in those days, I could walk circles around anyone; I never go tired and people had trouble keeping up with me. Ah, those were the days!

The next day I was due for allergy testing and I think the reason I didn't think the process was so bad was because I was a zombie from lack of sleep and still in pain, although not as severe.

Funny how you remember things, huh?

You do have a pod, don't you?

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Kathy G on 11/25/03 at 17:23 (138698)

Oh, and I quite agree with Julie. A chiropractor should be able to help you out with sciatica. It usually only takes one visit for me. My preference is an osteopath but Julie's right again. We just don't have very many in the states that do manipulations. They're mostly PCP's these days and the insurance companies won't pay for manipulations.

For the record, the pain from my sciatica is almost always down the inside of my leg but it's on the back for most people. I enjoy being unique!

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Dorothy on 11/25/03 at 18:12 (138705)

Kathy, it is so nice of you to write especially when I know you are having some especially painful times right now. Yes, I think you are right about sciatica, but I am gathering information on the subject and hope to learn from it, for me and for all of us. I first experienced it when first pregnant in my twenties. I was not a very large person (then!)and was about six months along and not a very large pregnant person either, but it hit out of the blue. My husband and I were out for a walk in a new-fallen snow and all of a sudden, I could not walk another step without a lot of pain. He carried pregnant me home on his back (ah, those were the days!) and it gradually went away for a long time, years. But it returned. It comes and goes.

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Sher A on 11/25/03 at 18:32 (138707)

Dorothy, you raise a most interesting point. But let me tell you my experience. I believe it was THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I noticed the back of my left leg was really hurting, especially at work where I drive a desk for 9 hours a day. The place where the chair seat hit the back of my leg caused great pain because I need a chair seat that goes all the way to under the knees, so I sat on of those donut cushions and that didn't help because it still put pressure on the back of my leg. So I went to this place and said I feared I had sciatica. They did the MRI, xrays, nerve conduction test and really didn't see anything. They said I was getting 'old' and that the area where the nerves pass through the backbone might be getting smaller. So I went through 4 epidurals. This was not fun. I made myself believe I felt much better, but I didn't. I had trigger point injections afterward until my back end look like and felt like it had been beat with a baseball bat. Then the physical therapy. 10 minutes of physical therapy then I got hooked up to an electronic 'stim' machine for the next 20. What an expensive rip that was and didn't help one iota. They got to charge for 20 minutes though, while the therapist started on someone else.

So I explored it from the feet up and began seeing pods, not happy with any of them. They just didn't give me that warm feeling that they were concerned or knew what they were doing. So I finally put 2 and 2 together and figured it was the subtle pain in my feet that turned into a roaring monster and sent the 'referred pain' up the back of my leg. One doctor, the one I actually trust, told me this. I got the custom orthotics from my pod and that truly seems to have help the pain in the back of my leg and now I can sit at work without having to get up every 20 minutes. Of course I can't get up every 20 minutes anymore because my feet are not feeling very well.

The shots seem to last about 2 weeks. I have a very negative attitude and don't think this is ever going to go away. Having a positive attitude didn't help either. Yesterday I got another shot and get this, a temporary handicapped sticker, which I have to go to the motor vehicles place on Friday and get. Do you know what kind of an indignity this is? Me? Handicapped? Only in that I work with computers maybe. Good grief. So I think that in walking the 'wrong way' is the thing that caused the sciatica pain and I think it works from the feet up. At least in my case it seemed to.

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Julie on 11/26/03 at 02:41 (138748)

Right, Kathy - of course it can work both ways. A back problem will affect the way we walk, and the way we walk affects our back (even if there is no nerve impingement going on). That's why the contribution of osteopaths or chiropracters is so useful - mainstream doctors, however good, tend to specialise (though some are obviously aware of connections).

Re: Maybe Sciatica

Dorothy on 11/26/03 at 13:27 (138783)

My apologies for not responding to your question. Not avoidance, just neglect... No, no 'pod'. I have made appts. twice in past and cancelled both. I don't have a lot of faith in medical intervention, frankly, and prefer other avenues to reach healing, unless and until medical intervention is the very best choice. My own experience with medical intevention versus other avenues has lead me to this approach.