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Thread: Sciatica/ back problems and riding

  1. #1
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    Default Sciatica/ back problems and riding

    Had a bit of an issue last week when I went for my normal lunchtime walk and got stuck!

    Turns out I have sciatica and weak back muscles on one side - I'm having physio to strengthen them, although the pain in my back has completely gone for the moment.

    Does anyone else ride with back issues and does it help the problem or make it worse? My doctor suggested that I take a total break from riding for at least the next few weeks, but I have a riding holiday coming up and don't want to go on my holiday having not ridden for over a month. I'd like to at least go for a walking hack with my instructor, even if trot and canter are out.

    If anyone has any experiences they can share I'd be really grateful - I don't want to ignore the doctor's advice, but I can't go for over a month without any riding at all! It's my stress reliever

  2. #2
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    I have had back surgery (slipped disc) and have constant sciatica.

    I do ride when I have the strength but find some days better than others. My horse doesn't trot which helps alot - he tölts! I could not do rising trot and have stopped riding my daughter's horse because he trots.

    I do think, however, that riding helps my core muscles, which my physio said were very strong anyway, and I enjoy riding so try very hard to do it. I have a horse I can trust 100%, which means he does as little or as much as I feel I can do. I feel very vulnerable on other horses though.

    One thing, however, I had a horrid fall in December (over horse's head when he tripped) and that has set me back a great deal to the point I have to see the surgeon again to see if I did any damage as I am now not getting any better. The painkilers are going up again. It was no one's fault but one of those things.

    This year I am aiming to do two endurance pleasure rides in Perth this summer. I will take my painkillers and go for it if I can. I find taking life day to day helps rather than a bigger plan. I also find that I can build my body up to do things if I work at it. Having said that, I cleaned a bathroom last week and could not walk afterwards - my right leg just gave way all the time. So, I will have to guage what works and what doesn't.

    Good luck. xx

  3. #3

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    I find riding helps me as long as I'm sensible about it. I do find that how the horse moves makes a huge difference, I won't ride anything that has excessive side to side swing when it moves & pullers are another no-no. Luckily both of mine are fine, Jim actually loosens me up if I'm starting to get stiff!
    I was so young & full of pride
    And you were wild & strong,
    I never knew how weak I was


    You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
    Know when to walk away, know when to run
    You never count your money, when you're sittin' at the table.
    There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done.

  4. #4

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    I currently have horrendous sciatica/back pain and am really struggling to ride. Have had it about 7 weeks now and nothing has as yet been investigated. The doctor did initially suggest that I try to keep going as normal. On a bad day I actually find that it is way too painful to walk and find trotting/cantering slightly easier. Going to speak to the doctor next week to find out if I should be continuing to try and ride. You have my sympathy - its awful

  5. #5
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    I can thoroughly recommend a tens machine.

    Also a hot water bottle on the painful area helps.

    Regular painkillers - not just painkillers when you need them. If you take something like diclofenac (voltarol), take paracetamol with it. Diclofenac is an anti-inflammatory while the paracetamol is a painkiller.

    If you take dihydrocodeine, take ibuprofen as well - again the dihydrocodeine is the painkiller and the ibuprofen is the anti-inflammatory.

    If you are feeling rich and have room, I can thoroughly recommend a banana chair (butterfly recliner) - http://www.thebananachaircompany.co.uk/2.html
    Worth every penny and helps a great deal.

  6. #6
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    Thank you for the replies everyone, I was taking voltarol and paracetamol together for a few days and then just paracetamol for the rest of the week, but the pain in the back and the leg (well my right buttock mainly!) seems to have subsided a lot this week. My physio told me not to be too complacent though, as the underlying problem may still be there - which is why I am a little worried about getting back in the saddle. Wish I had access to an Icelandic too Frances

    I think I'll talk it over with my RI - I'm encouraged that you guys are all still riding, even if you are limited in what you do.
    Last edited by Cookie Monster; 28-05-2010 at 22:24. Reason: typo

  7. #7
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    When my back as gone I MUST keep moving, even if it takes me 5 minutes to bend down and pick up something off the floor.

    Last time it went "pop" it took 3 of them to get me aboard Fákur, and I went for an hour ride and it's like the most divine massage. Took 3 of them to get me off again

    Trouble is, everyone's back is different and will respond differently according to the underlying problem.

    Most physios want sciatica sufferes to bend back 10 times for every 20 minutes they have been sitting or bending. My sciatica actually gets better if I bend forwards and fold up.

    The answer is strong trunk muscles, stomach musles are as important to support and portect a bad back as back muscles are.

    I can feel for you, I can, a bad back and sciatica is miserable.

    The important thing too is to learn the correct way to sit on a horse to protect your back. maintain that lordosis Some saddles do you no favours and plonk you in a bad posture that is not good for your back.

  8. #8
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    Also what chair do you sit in most. Most sofas and soft arm chairs are killers for a bad back......Frances and I are somewhat experts in the field! I was wheelchair bound 18 years ago, but managed to avoid surgery. I got better, but am still vunerable to sciatica.

    You are better stood straight or lying down than sitting in a bad chair. Lie on the floor with rour bum close to a kitchen chair or one with a flat sear, then put your legs up on the the seat of the chair and make your knees and hips 90 degrees to each other, that can take the sting out of a naggin sciatic nerve.

    like this http://upwardspiral.co.uk/wp-content...tatic-back.jpg

  9. #9

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    Totally sympathise, I have a slipped disc and MRI showed my lower discs have eroded at the bit with the sciatic nerve and get sciatica if put my back out, really annoys me. I can trip over my own foot when walking when it's bad as I can't feel it at all, like a dead leg and foot plus the butt cramp!

    The only things that work for me are: 1) catching it early - take strong anti-inflams from doctor regularly in a pattern without missing for a week 2) no heavy lifting and try to rest it as much as you can when it's niggly (not easy with mucking out)
    3) Boots heat pad - cost about £30 but amazing, pop it on max heat until it switches off (just over an hour) and so much more comfy than hot water bottle
    4) Daily back exercises from physio - do them every morning to stretch it - even when feels fine
    5) then if need it either physio or chiropractor

    I've tried those back support belts when riding but didn't work for me. I do have a Heather moffatt seat bone saver now and that helps with the impact through the saddle, much more comfy

    Had almost 4 months off one Winter, it was excrutiating and was physically sick with the pain, I now know when it gets niggly to take it seriously. At it's worst I saw an orthapedic surgeon and had steroid injections in my spine, those really did help

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wally View Post
    Also what chair do you sit in most. Most sofas and soft arm chairs are killers for a bad back
    Er... I'm slumped in an extremely soft sofa right now I know I need to sort that out - my physio recommended one of those exercise balls to sit on at home as apparently you have to keep using your core muscles even when watching tv. They have bought me a really good office chair for work and they did a full h&s assessment of my desk area last week, so it's just my evenings and weekends that needs sorting out.

    I have been given some stretches to do at home - I'm definitely going to follow your 5 point plan Rookie - great advice, thanks I'm thinking of signing up for one of those 8 week intro to pilates courses - really don't want to go through a week like last week again!

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