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Sciatic nerve pain

jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
We went to the mountains to hike this past week. Pretended we were on the Camino with items in our packs, hand washed clothes etc. I learned a lot. My pack is a bit lighter.

The first day (Tuesday) we walked a fairly rough trail, up/down/rocks for 7 miles. It was tiring but we did ok. Lots of little breaks, no really long break. It took us 4 hours. By the end my sciatic nerve was tender, not screaming in pain.

The second day (Wednesday) we walked in the neighborhood with about 5 miles of roads, lots of up and down with some steep grades. 8% grade up was the worst. Walking level or down was fine. Walking up was incredibly painful. For the last mile I had my pack up around my rib cage to keep the thing off my lower back where the trigger point is. Took a pain pill when we were done.

The third day (Thursday) we walk a short distance without the packs. My back was very unhappy. By then I remembered to take tiny steps, do a switch back pattern up any incline. Put a heat strip on my back before walking.

If anyone has dealt with this, please share any ideas you have. One thing I came up with was to put padding inside the edge where the pack rests on my lower back - leaving a hole (unpadded area) at the trigger point so the pack doesn't hit the trigger. Similar to putting a mole skin donut on a blister area.

Tiny steps, switch back up hill, put heat pad on before I start, get the pack off the trigger spot. I don't want to take the pain pills, will do so if I really have to. Will have my pack transported if needed, although even without the pack there is pain once the trigger is hit.
 
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Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
Jo, I don't know if this is related or not but this is my two cents. If you are carrying the weight of the pack properly then the hip belt should be snug and the weight of the pack distributed on your hips. The shoulder straps stop the pack from falling backward. There should not be a downward force on your back. Do you have the same back issues covering similar terrain without the pack? Maybe the weight of the pack is making you lean forward putting unnatural stress on your back.
 

onwayhome

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Ponferrada-Santiago,(c1986)
Frances SJPP-Santiago (2011)
Portuguese Porto- Finisterre (2016)
St Michaels Way (2016)
Ouch! I have found different packs transferred weight into my pelvis and lower back in noticeably different ways. You could try out some in an outdoors store, might work out better long term than a padding system for your existing pack.
If you can relieve the immediate compression by altering/changing your pack then maybe gentle exercise to open up the lower back might be an idea. You will know your body and what it needs here.
It's good to find this out before setting out, hope you find the solution that works for you and have a great Camino.
 

jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
The brace looks very similar to the brace worn by people who lift boxes all day. I would be willing to give it a try.

The back pain became evident, strongly, again walking up hill with no pack. Flat and down were ok. Although this could have been because I injured the area. I'll try again once my back stops hurting and see if it injures with no pack. I do get back pain when I stand / walk for about 6 hours a day, with no pack.

I also will take my pack to REI, tell them what is happening and get their advise. A different pack may be in order.

In the past I have had very bad episodes of sciatic pain, last time was 7 yrs ago. For the last 6 months of walking with a pack in the city - no problems. It is definitely walking up hill.
 
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Deleted member 67185

Guest
We went to the mountains to hike this past week. Pretended we were on the Camino with items in our packs, hand washed clothes etc. I learned a lot. My pack is a bit lighter.

The first day (Tuesday) we walked a fairly rough trail, up/down/rocks for 7 miles. It was tiring but we did ok. Lots of little breaks, no really long break. It took us 4 hours. By the end my sciatic nerve was tender, not screaming in pain.

The second day (Wednesday) we walked in the neighborhood with about 5 miles of roads, lots of up and down with some steep grades. 8% grade up was the worst. Walking level or down was fine. Walking up was incredibly painful. For the last mile I had my pack up around my rib cage to keep the thing off my lower back where the trigger point is. Took a pain pill when we were done.

The third day (Thursday) we walk a short distance without the packs. My back was very unhappy. By then I remembered to take tiny steps, do a switch back pattern up any incline. Put a heat strip on my back before walking.

If anyone has dealt with this, please share any ideas you have. One thing I came up with was to put padding inside the edge where the pack rests on my lower back - leaving a hole (unpadded area) at the trigger point so the pack doesn't hit the trigger. Similar to putting a mole skin donut on a blister area.

Tiny steps, switch back up hill, put heat pad on before I start, get the pack off the trigger spot. I don't want to take the pain pills, will do so if I really have to. Will have my pack transported if needed, although even without the pack there is pain once the trigger is hit.

Piriformis Syndrome can be a cause of Sciatic nerve pain. It is one of the differential diagnosis used to distinguish causes of Sciatica. If the cause is the interaction of the Piriformis Muscle with the Sciatic nerve, there are stretches which will help, and even eliminate the Piriformis Muscle from irritating the Sciatic nerve.

I mention this, because I went through the same thing, trying to ignore and fight through it until it became too problematic to ignore. After months of trying to deal with it myself, and with doctor's appts, I was handed over to a Physical Therapist who recognized the issue and gave me the guidance needed to mostly eliminate the pain. Now, ever so often, when backpacking or hiking or just doing chores around the house, I will feel a dull achiness. I'll take a few Vitamin I (Ibuprofen), ice the area, and after a while do the stretching exercises I was taught for Piriformis.

Here's a link for you to look at:
https://www.spine-health.com/wellne...and-exercise-sciatic-pain-piriformis-syndrome
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I didn't experience any of this on my Caminos. But in November last I went few meter from my room to the bathroom to take a leak and while doing it very intense and sharp pain went through my left butt-half (??? - does that sound right???).

For a few days I was almost tied to a bed due to pain and months after that neuropsyhiatrics gave me diagnosis of damaged L5 isciatica nerv roots. Nothing could be done except some painful training and that's it. I kind of felt left alone in this but it's getting better. The professor doctor said to me to just wait until the pain go away and then start with ordinary routine.

Hope that helps and that you already feel better!!!

PS (Maybe take precaution not to wear sweated T-shirt around your hips and sit where is a air drift...???)
 

jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
The Camino provides. :)

We went to REI and found our chiropractor there.
He showed me an exercise to do and told me to buy poles.

As it was REI's large yearly sale and I had a 20% coupon, and my dividend amount to spend - I saved a lot of money on very good poles. The young lady who was helping me showed me poles that were made for my height, adjustable for up & down hills and less expensive than the ones in my hand. :)
 

smileey

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Hello I have walked 2 Camino's with significant sciatic pain. I took tennis balls with me to massage trigger points and I also sought out physiotherapy in several large towns. I got dry needling and acupuncture and this was sensational. I find as the weeks go by the pain gets less until I adjust. I just looked online for acupuncture but easy to find in most towns.
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Year of past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
I have had sciatica before and was semi disabled - my left leg went numb as well. All advice on the net suggests that one remains active and that walking is in fact good for your recovery. Personally , I would send the pack on each day - heaven knows what state you will be in if you tweak your back , jolt or fall while carrying 15kgs + ?
PS , I am certainly NO doctor :)
 
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jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
The walking poles are interesting. Just practiced a bit around the house with no pack. Using them as directed, opposite leg to pole is ok. Using the pole with my leg helps take the weight off the side with the pinched nerve.

Started doing the stretch exercise the Dr. showed me. Things are popping (good), it's a bit sore which I guess is normal.

After another week in the mountains next month I'll see how it goes. If I need to send my pack ahead I will, no arguments from me. A bad back injury would end my Camino. I am strongly considering sending the pack to Orisson and then up over the 2nd day.
 

Bloubird

Betty
Year of past OR future Camino
May 4-June 16 (2016) France
Sept 19-Oct 25 (2017) Portugueses
Train lightly with the pack. Use it every other hike as an experiment. The 1st week with my pack was the hardest and I thought many times of sending it ahead.
I see a massage therapist regularly and will get acupuncture before I leave to keep that sciatica pain away. But will definitely send my pack ahead on days the sciatica flares up. Safe Camino to you.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
The Camino provides. :)

We went to REI and found our chiropractor there.
He showed me an exercise to do and told me to buy poles.

As it was REI's large yearly sale and I had a 20% coupon, and my dividend amount to spend - I saved a lot of money on very good poles. The young lady who was helping me showed me poles that were made for my height, adjustable for up & down hills and less expensive than the ones in my hand. :)

Jo, just a thought.... If you plan on using those poles for the Camino, (good job on the sale and dividend score, btw) are you shipping them ahead to your arrival point, or are you packing them in check-in luggage?
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2017-Sarria to Santiago and Lires to Finisterre
I just recently returned from the Camino. I have sciatic pain from both a herniated disk and piriformis syndrome. I did what I could to mitigate the issues as much as possible before starting. Interestingly, I do better walking with the backpack than even just standing., I used my trekking poles as much as possible to ease the stress of hills, both up an down. Now that I am back home, my issues have been worse. I took a lacrosse ball on the hike to help with the piriformis. Assuming you don't have a lacrosse ball with you, do as much stretching you can, particularly the pretzel and figure 4 stretches if you have been introduced to them. Buen camino!
 

jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
Jo, just a thought.... If you plan on using those poles for the Camino, (good job on the sale and dividend score, btw) are you shipping them ahead to your arrival point, or are you packing them in check-in luggage?
We will have Hubby's pack checked-in. Too big for carry on. There will also be one suitcase, as we will be staying in Europe for about a month after our Camino.
 
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jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
I just recently returned from the Camino. I have sciatic pain from both a herniated disk and piriformis syndrome. I did what I could to mitigate the issues as much as possible before starting. Interestingly, I do better walking with the backpack than even just standing., I used my trekking poles as much as possible to ease the stress of hills, both up an down. Now that I am back home, my issues have been worse. I took a lacrosse ball on the hike to help with the piriformis. Assuming you don't have a lacrosse ball with you, do as much stretching you can, particularly the pretzel and figure 4 stretches if you have been introduced to them. Buen camino!
Lots of figure 4 stretches, but it only helps without a flare up. The "lunge" stretch does a good job. The Dr. showed me how to do it in the store. People probably thought we were funny.
 

camino-david

RIP 2020
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Frances (x4), Finisterre, Aragon, Via de la Plata, Portuguese 2011 -2015. Hospitalero 2015
I also suffer with sciatic pain, although not so severe as Jo Webber. I find poles are a great help and I know that I could not walk a Camino without them.
 

willydp

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Inglés June 2019
To do: C Primitivo June 202x :(
Hi,
I had extreme lower back pain beginning of April. Doctor ordered CT Scan...result discus hernia L4-L5 & L5-S1, sciatica nerve touched. Took medication (Meloxicam 15mg) for 3 weeks and then physiotherapy for 3 weeks + medication
My Camino start of begin May had to be postponed until...
When I thought that it got better, I started doing a bit more than I should I suppose, so got a setback again...start taking pills again and I have still numb feelings from time to time, pain in the lower back and sciatica nerve, hurting from back to right foot.
So I can understand very well.
Walking for 3 to 4 km is OK, more :confused:
Going back to the doctor next week to ask to see a specialist and if needed a neurosurgeon.
It is now 2 months and it is not going away. Some days much better untill I start doing small things...housekeeping.
I can only say that you should take a medical checkup before self medication.
It is always same pain, but different cause.
Be careful ;)
Buen Camino
 

jo webber

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 9th 2017
Hi,
I had extreme lower back pain beginning of April. Doctor ordered CT Scan...result discus hernia L4-L5 & L5-S1, sciatica nerve touched. Took medication (Meloxicam 15mg) for 3 weeks and then physiotherapy for 3 weeks + medication
My Camino start of begin May had to be postponed until...
When I thought that it got better, I started doing a bit more than I should I suppose, so got a setback again...start taking pills again and I have still numb feelings from time to time, pain in the lower back and sciatica nerve, hurting from back to right foot.
So I can understand very well.
Walking for 3 to 4 km is OK, more :confused:
Going back to the doctor next week to ask to see a specialist and if needed a neurosurgeon.
It is now 2 months and it is not going away. Some days much better untill I start doing small things...housekeeping.
I can only say that you should take a medical checkup before self medication.
It is always same pain, but different cause.
Be careful ;)
Buen Camino
Housekeeping means a lot of bending, not good for the pinched nerve. I was told to squat or even kneel on the floor - no bending. It's very hard to remember and impossible to do some house chores per the instructions I was given.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have had sciatica before and was semi disabled - my left leg went numb as well. All advice on the net suggests that one remains active and that walking is in fact good for your recovery. Personally , I would send the pack on each day - heaven knows what state you will be in if you tweak your back , jolt or fall while carrying 15kgs + ?
PS , I am certainly NO doctor :)
Is your pack really 15 kgs? That's a ridiculous amount of weight to carry on the Camino. You got a rice cooker in there? :D
 
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RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Year of past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
Is your pack really 15 kgs? That's a ridiculous amount of weight to carry on the Camino. You got a rice cooker in there? :D
Hehe - I now limit myself to one or two weeks a time on the Camino - I almost always carry my Camping Gaz Cooker and sometimes a cheap 3 man tent which I discard in an obvious place for other pilgrims to experience.:)
 

willydp

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Inglés June 2019
To do: C Primitivo June 202x :(
That is what is what I'm afraid for, doing the Camino Francés in pieces:oops:
I think I will walk either the Camino Inglés or Camino Portugues from Porto for a "warm-up" when I'm "healed" and trained again.
When that goes well the Francés the next year ;)
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
I get sciatic back pain in the spring when I start carrying my backpack for training. More training with the backpack over the summer seems to strength back muscles and minimizes pain. By the fall, I am ready for the Camino!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
As a fellow back pain sufferer I have two tips:

Strengthen also your tummy muscles as they, together with the back muscles, keep your spine in the correct position.
Take great care to adjust your back pack correctly: Weight on hips, not shoulders, no pulling you backwards or pushing you forward etc.

Buen Camino, SY
 
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willydp

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Inglés June 2019
To do: C Primitivo June 202x :(
I'm doing some small exercises given by my physiotherapist.
He told me to take it very easy at the beginning and not too much either afterward.
Bending and turning the spine when lifting objects is to avoid (bad habit).
Every person has to see what is best for him...good sleep, exercises, food, ...
The link given by davebugg is a good start for those who are looking for exercises :)
 

whiteking13

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees
My friend recommended to me a website, saying that there is a thigh compression sleeve that can relieve sciatica. After buying it, it seems to have a little effect. It is not as painful as before. I also recommend you to check it out.
 

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