PAO recovery week 11: Sciatica sucks

I haven’t been posting too much this week – my Way of the Dress blogging routine has been completely upset by the recent setback in my recovery. A week ago, I discussed it with my GP who decided a new X-ray would be sensible. I ended up waiting in A&E whilst three different orthopaedic doctors reviewed the new X-ray and compared it with one from my 6 week check up, which had been sent down from UCLH. This was necessary because the X-ray showed lots of fractures, but the doctors couldn’t tell which ones had happened during the PAO and which ones might be new – how reassuring!

In the end the consensus was that there were no fresh fractures, but Mr Witt has agreed to review the X-rays to be sure. In the meantime, my physiotherapist’s best bet is that my central nervous system has been aggravated by the trauma of the surgery and is reacting to the increasing levels of activity and weight bearing by responding more strongly to pain. This is why the pain moves down my leg from my hip – it’s traveling along the sciatic nerve. I’ve been banned from physio and told to go back to using two crutches. Grrr – I’m so frustrated!

In the meantime, here are some sciatica-busting moves I’ve found useful…

1) Bouncing gently on a gym ball to keep my core engaged and stop my back muscles from getting weaker

2) The ‘tennis ball’ sciatica treatment as recommended by many Hip Women!

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place a tennis ball under the small of your back and using your hips, manoeuvre it slowly around your sacroiliac joints until you find a tender spot. Then relax against the tennis ball and you’ll start to feel the pain dissipate a little.

3) Very gentle hamstring stretches: the sciatic nerve runs down the hamstring so by stretching the hamstring you can release pressure on this nerve. I was taught one gentle exercise that I can do whilst sitting:

Sit on the front edge of a dining chair, with your heels on the floor but keeping your knees relatively straight. Holding onto the edge of the chair, lean forward from your pelvis, keeping your back straight. You should feel a stretch at the back of your legs. When the stretch becomes more comfortable, lean forward a little more and hold for up to 20 seconds. You can do this one leg at a time if it’s more comfortable – just keep one leg bent at the knee, and stretch the other one.

4) Lots of yoga ‘cat’ poses, moving into ‘downward dog’ when I feel able to.

Like this:

…and not like this!

Don’t try this at home – or with your cat.

Downward dog – I can do it JUST LIKE THIS. Ahem. Photo from http://www.yogajournal.com

5) Saving the best till last – this exercise was the most helpful in reducing my pain levels.

Lie on your back with knees bent, and let your knees fall gently to one side, then lift them back to centre. Let them fall to the other side, then back to centre. Repeat until horrible nauseating pain has gone away.

Reclining twist – from http://www.diveintampabay.com

After a week or two of awful pain, I’m now on reduced levels of painkillers and starting to walk around the house without crutches – although with a little less confidence than before. My next physio appointment is tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be starting a more comprehensive rehabilitation programme again soon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and sending a BIIIG thank you to the hip women who helped me through a wretched couple of weeks. Being happy with wonky hips would be a lot harder without you!

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