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The Fear of Back Pain and Sciatica

back pain and sciatica pain management

The fear of back pain and sciatica can sometimes be as debilitating as the pain itself. Those of you who read my previous blog Pain! The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly will recall how I described the three types of pain.

In summary:-

Good pain is the pain we feel from physical exertion that keeps us strong and healthy or it could be due to the treatment you may require to aid your recovery from an injury or illness.  For instance, physiotherapy or massage treatment may cause some discomfort to start with.

Bad pain is from an injury we have received from an impact or over stressing a muscle or tendon, etc.

Ugly pain is pain caused by disease, such as from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or disease of the internal organs, i.e. heart, liver, lungs, etc.

I once had a bad fall, injuring my lower back causing back pain and sciatica, which was an unforgettable experience, hence the title of this blog.

I fell onto my back playing table tennis (don’t ask) and, being pumped full of adrenalin, I picked myself up off the floor to continue playing but quickly realised this was not a good idea. Probably because the adrenalin was still coursing through my veins, I managed to walk to the car for my wife to drive us home.

And then the back pain and sciatica kicked in…

Once home, with my wife’s assistance, I managed to get into the house and undressed with the intention of having a shower. This was the moment when the bad pain seriously kicked in and I found myself stood in my birthday suit, clinging onto a set of drawers (not a pretty sight) in the bedroom in screaming agony, using choice Anglo Saxon phrases! I was too frightened to move; the pain was so intense; on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 10+.  My wife rang 111 and they sent the paramedics out.  Some time later, with their help and a lot of gas and air, they managed to get me reasonably comfortable propped up in an armchair, where I spent the night.

What I realised the following morning was that it was the fear of pain that was keeping me frozen in the armchair and that I had to face the fear. Gradually, with the help of my wife and a pair of crutches lent by our neighbours, and with lots of ice, heat and some pain medication, I got up and got moving.

The second night I managed to get into bed, which I had been dreading.  Again, it was the fear of the pain returning that was holding me back. Over the next two days I gradually made myself do those things that I thought would cause me pain, and whilst I did get the odd sharp reminder, generally I started to relax more as I moved.  I realised that when I found myself tensing in expectation of pain, if I made myself relax prior to doing the task, the less pain I felt.  By the end of the second day I found that I no longer needed to take any pain medication. I had started on the road to recovery and knew that I was moving in the right direction.

The point is this: to help us recover from the Bad pain and to assist in the recovery and reduction of the effects of Ugly pain, we have to accept some pain as part of the recovery process. Only once we have psychologically accepted this fact and understood both the cause of our pain and the action needed to help us recover will we find that our pain starts to reduce.     

We hope hearing my experience of dealing with acute back pain and sciatica will encourage you.

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