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The Fear of Back Pain and Sciatica

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.


  1. Gail on April 28, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    I am a 69 year old female. I am going over a year with sciatica in the left butt down my leg to my toes. I get tingling, numbness. I have tried chiropractor and physical therapy. Sometimes it has felt like it was going away. Then it comes back.
    Sitting and lying down always gave me relief. Now laying down hurts also. This is not living it’s horrible.
    Sitting does not hurt. Sitting too long makes it worse. Any suggestions?

    • SPRC on May 2, 2022 at 9:30 pm

      Dear Gail,
      If sciatica has felt like it is going away that is something to take heart from. You just need that feeling to last a bit longer and longer until it has gone.
      Try and work out exactly what triggers your symptoms. If you know this then you can try to modify your activities to reduce the chance of triggering or exacerbating symptoms.
      Flick through our blogs to see if any tips and ideas seem appropriate for you. Best wishes.

  2. Apple on September 20, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    I am just 27 years old. And I’m suffering from sciatica nerve pain due to my herniated disc (L5, S1). I couldn’t bare with the pain sometimes. It’s painful, really. I wish I could turn back time. Please help me.

    • SPRC on September 21, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      Dear Charmaine,
      The pain can be excruciating, but you are young, which gives you a great opportunity to fully recover. Sounds like you have a full diagnosis so you must be working with healthcare professionals. Follow their advice and you will do well. Read all of the blogs on our website. There may be some that give you a good idea of how you may help yourself. Best wishes.

  3. Brenda Lawrence on March 20, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Reading this makes complete sense. I am struggling with sciatica, 2 months now. Know I need to stay mobile, but terrified of pain and muscle spasms. Can’t sit down at all. Hardly stand. Never thought of crutches as a temporary aid.

    • SPRC on March 21, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Hello Brenda,
      A lot of people will be able to relate to what you say. If some assistance helps you to move more with less pain that can help your recovery. The aim is for a temporary aid as opposed to a permanent aid. Best wishes.

  4. Downtown Pain Physicians on December 2, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Very informative

    • Maryann on December 3, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      I think that fear is the STRONGEST emotion that has the capacity to paralyzes our body. Thank you for sharing. So appreciate your article.

      • SPRC on December 3, 2020 at 5:27 pm

        Your welcome Maryann.

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