Therein lies the problem. Sciatica is not a diagnosis of a disease or condition. It merely describes symptoms of lower back and leg pain that are the result from some undetermined cause. In other words, all the doctors provided was a word to describe my pain, but no clue as to its cure. Thanks. Anyone watching me writhe on the floor could see that I was in pain. No word was needed. Actually, I don't believe that any word could describe it.
I might have visited the specialists, one-at-a-time: orthopedist, neurologist, et al. (It was a safe bet that I could skip the Obstetrician-Gynecologist. I'm not pregnant, one of the common causes of sciatica.) However, my daughter insisted that I begin with her chiropractor. Really? I was skeptical.
Like most people, I viewed chiropractic medicine as quackery, but my daughter can be extremely insistent. She had been injured while rowing for a collegiate team and none of the sports medicine specialists had helped. Thus, she swears by the chiropractor who ultimately alleviated her pain. She calls him a witch doctor. I made an appointment to keep peace in the family.
You should go, at least once in your life. A visit to a chiropractor is like a visit to The Magic Castle, a Hollywood institution where dinners are served along with magical shows. In addition to diagnosing the root cause of my sciatica, the chiropractor treated me to several demonstrations of medical legerdemain.
In addition to the pain, my left leg had lost its strength. No, the muscles hadn't withered. They simply weren't receiving the proper electrical cues from the nerves to perform as they were supposed to. The chiropractor had me wear a pair of magical colored glasses that restored strength to the afflicted leg. How? Beats me. I told you, it's magic! He could also weaken my good leg by simply touching a certain spot on my back. There wasn't any therapeutic benefit to that latter demonstration. I'm sure that he was just showing off.
After just three visits with the chiropractor, the pain was relieved and strength was returning. I was able to put the pain medication aside for almost forty-eight hours. Then, one night, the demons returned with reinforcements.
If my wife hadn't been at my side to encourage me, I might have blown my brains out. Even the pain pills were useless. I had an appointment with the chiropractor for the next morning but doubted he could help. I had lost the little faith I had acquired in his arts. My wife insisted that we go anyhow. She agreed to start calling the other specialists if he couldn't help.
The problem was that chiropractors manipulate your body, especially the spine, and my pain encompassed every part of my back and leg. It included many types of pain including touch and pressure. It felt as though my leg was immersed in hot lava, tons of it. Even the ride to his office was excruciating. I became annoyed with my wife's driving convinced that she was swerving and jerking the car on purpose, and diving into every pothole as retribution for my many sins.
When we arrived, the chiropractor went to work and the pain subsided with every adjustment. Within fifteen minutes, it ended. He then began asking questions trying to determine what had occurred to cause the flare up. He knows that I am a writer and speculated that something had happened with my chair.
How did he know that? Yes, my office chair has a pneumatic piston that allows the user to adjust seat height. It began leaking air two days before and sank to its lowest setting as soon as I sat on it (no fat jokes please). Ah, there was the problem. Sitting with the knees elevated above the hips was causing my spine to pinch the sciatic nerves. That's when he gave me the magic wedge (no, not a wedgie). It's a simple foam wedge that I sit on to raise my hips above my knees.
The wedge worked. I sat on it on the ride home and arrived there without any pain. The bucket seats in the car had been the culprit, not my wife's driving. (I know that she'll smile at this part as she proofs this for publication.)
The chiropractor also instructed me to ice my back whenever the pain returns. Whereas the pain pill required about forty-five minutes to take effect, icing the lower back works almost immediately. Also, the pain pill only masks the pain. The cold pack alleviates the swelling that causes the pain.
Now, I'm a believer. My wife and I are annoying everyone we know with this tale. Anyone who suffers pain is lectured on the reasons why they should hie themselves off to the chiropractor.
See me next week, and I'll tell you about bats' wings and eye of newt.