I have sciatica pain caused by spinal stenosis at the L-3/L-4 junction. The pain was rather severe and has been going on for a while. One occasion it was so bad that it sent me to the emergency room. I had gone to my family practice and they just screwed the pooch because they just gave me some muscle relaxers and sent me on the way with the standard "oh, you just strained your back" take these and it will get better.
I have been through PT both at a spine clinic and at a physical therapy office. Not that the therapists were bad, but the issue was far more serious. I also visited various bone and joint doctors and all they wanted was to give me pain killers and muscle relaxers, send me on to PT and hope for the best.
During my last visit I set my foot down! I told the doctor that I wanted a MRI. The PT did get me stronger in my core area, but, did absolutely nothing to take care of the pain. Once the results of the MRI were back, the doctor said, there is nothing I can do, you need to see a neurologist. Well duh...
I went to see a neurologist who was awesome. He explained everything that had been going on and said that rather than surgery, he wanted to try a foraminal epidural injection first. He also said that I had about a 50/50 chance that this would work because my herniated disc was very large and causing significant stenosis.
I finally went through my first injection. It has been 6 days and there is still pain in my buttocks, but, I have yet to take any pain medications. I do think that I will need at least a second injection, but, my hope is that this will help at least for some of my time. In the meantime I continue with my PT exercises at home.
So do your research, don't let generalists or orthopedists jack you around. Stand up for yourself and demand that MRI and further investigation. Hey after all it is your body that hurts, not theirs.
Besides this site, there are some awesome sites available for research... use them. The more you learn the better it is for all of us, especially if you share your experiences with the rest of us. - Jose