My Chronic Pain Battle: Fake Sciatica, Tendonitis, Muscle Strain, Whatever

Note: Chronic pain blogs are mostly only interesting to other people with chronic pain. We eat this stuff up. Soooooo, friends, do not feel like you have to sit through this one.  Ha! Or feel free to scan and read only the one line paragraphs. I do that a lot too.


Pregnancy induced sciatica: a little preview of my future, but I had no idea.

My Chronic Pain Battle: Fake Sciatica, Tendonitis, Bursitis, Muscle Strain, Whatever it is!

The first time I developed “sciatica”, whether it ever actually was sciatica or not, I have no idea…..I was pregnant with my very first baby. “It’ll go away once you have the baby,” they said. It hurt exactly the way it does now: across my lower back, down one side of my rear, down my leg, all the way to my foot.

Horrifying stuff, always at its worst when you’re lying in bed.

I couldn’t wait to go into labor. I knew they were handing out free epidurals (with insurance) there. That’s right. I didn’t see any trophies for delivering babies without an epidural, so I was sure to sign up. I’d give anything to finally not feel my hip.

But the joke was on me. The epidural didn’t work properly. I ended up with dead legs, but my uterus was not so much….I got to experience the pain of natural childbirth after all. Only, my legs were dead, so I couldn’t even move around to cope with it.

16 hours, and a great deal of vomiting and shaking later, and they finally ripped Joshua out of my pelvis with one of those baby vacuums.

The good news is that the ob/gyn folks were right about the pregnancy sciatica. It went away the day I gave birth.

Phew! I approached the next pregnancy, only one year later, with great fear and trepidation. Please don’t let it come back. Please oh please. That sciatica stuff was terrifying.

And it didn’t!


happy, healthy pregnancy

And then wonder of wonders, my epidural WORKED! This baby was stuck in my pelvis too, though. It took me 12 weeks to recover from that one, but still no sciatica. Yay!

Then two years after Caleb was born, out of the clear friggin blue sky, it did come back. Only this time I wasn’t pregnant. It was sudden, and I think it was brought on from this incident where Joshua jumped on my back. However, as I looked back at my records, I noticed that I reported it to the doctor as “gradual onset.” Who knows. My memory isn’t so hot anymore.

I just woke up one day and could not put a lick of weight on my left leg. It just buckled! This was different. With the pregnancy sciatica, it hurt to walk, but at least I could do it. I called my mom, she drove me to my doctor’s office while the boys went to preschool.

I took every shot they offered me, I did a little physical therapy, they ran blood work and an MRI, but no one really knew what was wrong. My chart said “tenosynovitis.”

My physical therapist said that I should not have any more children.

I wasn’t too worried. I was 28. I’d get better. Four months later, it was nothing more than a mild pinch that occasionally came and went. I was eventually able to even walk normally.

snow day

Feeling pretty good between babies 2 and 3. I figured the hip thing was a problem of the past, with just a little pinch leftover as a reminder.

I decided to have another baby. I gained a whopping 55 pounds, but still there was no sciatica. I was good.

I’m not sure when exactly, but somewhere between Daniel’s birth and Alan’s return from Afghanistan, the occasional pinch grew. It appeared more often and stayed longer.

Then there was another big event. I’ve noticed people in the chronic pain community call this a “flare up”. I use that phrase with reluctance, as no one has ever, as yet, been able to figure out what exactly is flaring up. Six years later, this now irritates me to no end.

This was around the time of the 3rd flare up.

This was around the time of the 3rd flare up. Cute pic, though!

The third major flare up occurred after Alan had just returned from Afghanistan, and the boys and I had just returned to Virginia. But this time my shoulder, back (It felt like my ribcage), and neck decided to join in the fun.

It was like the entire right side of my body and my neck were trying to kill me. And right at that time, my pinky nail went white. Solid white and loose. Was I losing my nail??? Weird!!!! Why?????

I could hardly turn my neck because of the pain between my neck and my shoulder, and worst of all, it hurt to inhale. I had to breathe carefully. Breathe too deeply, and I’d pay for that.

The military clinics were useless. U-s-e-l-e-s-s. The first doctor that I saw handed me a prescription for muscle relaxers, said, “Everyone has back pain,” and sent me on my way.


The second time, because you’ll try even a useless clinic when you can’t inhale all the way, the doctor was a little better. She told me not to take the muscle relaxers, referred me to physical therapy, and took x-rays. She also did this periformis release technique on my rear end, and all of the pain moved a little to the left. That was sort of promising.

She said the neck/ inhaling/ shoulder pain thing was strained muscles.

I tried the physical therapy clinic. They never had any available appointments during the hours that I could get childcare for my two pre-schoolers, so that was a dead end.

I’ll never forget my low point. It was 2012. I put Daniel to bed for a nap, and I put in a movie to keep the kids occupied but safe. There were three little boys at this point, and I laid on my bed, stared at the ceiling, cried, and prayed for help.

Then the doorbell rang.

To be continued……You can’t do this story justice in one post!


Read Part II here.






  • 🙁 Google images of nail psoriasis. If pertinent, make sure you mention the nail thing to either a family physician, a dermatologist, or a rheumatologist. At some point it might be worth paying cash to get in to see an MD or DO instead of being stuck with whoever the military assigns. I’m sorry it is taking so long to get diagnosis and treatment 🙁 I would highly recommend the book When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests. I took notes while reading through that book, and at my next appointment was able to see some of the pitfalls the book mentions and step in to get people to listen to me instead of being focused on their little check-boxes. Well worth the time and money.

    • Yes! I could learn a lot from you! This left off in 2012. A lot happened since then, and I’m finally being seen by a rheumatologist. I think I did tell him about my nails. He’s still deciding. he doesn’t think I have psoriatic arthritis yet, but I think it’s still a possibility. THANKFULLY, this is not a military doc this time, not that all mildocs are bad, of course. This rheumatologist has been very nice, and he gave me Celebrex, which is a nice change. No one else has given me any medication at all since 2012.

    • McMom

      I’m going to check out that book – sounds helpful!

  • I am so sorry that you are having so much trouble with back and hip pain. It is the pits! Especially when you don’t know what is causing it. Just thought I would pass on a little family medical history…. none of it may be relevant, but you never know. Both Granny and Grandaddy had back problems and had to wear back braces. Granny was well up in age before she ever tried a chiropractor. I remember her saying that he measured every bone in her body. (May have been a slight exaggeration). He found that one of her legs were a fraction of an inch shorter than the other. He said that had caused a lot of her pain.
    When Amber was born, they ran a lot of xrays on her. The doctor told me that she was missing a vertebra in her spine. I mentioned it to Grandaddy. He said that the doctors had told him that he was also missing a vertebra.
    Amber started having a lot of pain in her back in the last few years. She went to the doctor with it. They said she has scoliosis and spinal stenosis.
    I will be praying that you find answers soon and that you can get some relief from the pain. I love you.

    • Thanks, Linda! I never knew that about Amber! Gracious. I think I did know about the scoliosis, but certainly not the missing vertebrae. Well, I’ve only had 20 or so x-rays, so I’m pretty sure I’m good for those things. You know I believe in some chiropractors. Chiropractors kept this thing under control from 2012-2015, but at this point, I need something more. I do have a tilted pelvis, which is usually related to a leg length discrepancy, but in my case both legs are the same. However, I used to be double jointed. Remember my yoga? And now I’m not really. Mom said Granny also had two types of arthritis, and her hands were disfigured. I’d sure be interested to know if it was psoriatic arthritis. If only I thought of this question just 3 years ago.
      aprilmomoffour recently posted…My Chronic Pain Battle: Fake Sciatica, Tendonitis, Muscle Strain, WhateverMy Profile

  • So sorry about your chronic pain. Glad you are able to see a rheumatologist now and get relief from the pain. My rheumatologist told me that delivery brings about flares for RA and sure enough with delivery of each of my 3 sons, I flared 6 weeks after delivery. I know it’s so hard on those months waiting for a diagnosis and not knowing what’s wrong with you. I was 27 when I had my oldest son and pain started when he was 6 weeks old. That was my low point until he was 7 months old and I finally got a diagnosis and longer still till we figured out what meds would relieve my pain. Thanks for sharing your story. I have a guest post series many bloggers share something about chronic illness, I would love for you to write something if you’re interested.

  • Jen

    The doorbell rang… Dying to know what happened. I am so very sorry for the pain you are experiencing. I have never had this kind of lasting pain and so I have no suggestion or ideas, but I can pray for you. Hugs!
    Jen recently posted…2016 Is The Year Of The BloggerMy Profile

  • Pingback: My Battle With Chronic Pain Part II: Tendonitis, Sacroiliac Pain, Muscle Strain, Whatever – Stories of Our Boys

  • KT

    I knew you were dealing with some issues, but had no idea how bad they are. I’m truly sorry to hear that you have to deal with that and so awed that you keep your upbeat attitude despite it. ‘I didn’t see any trophies for delivering babies without an epidural.’ I laughed so hard I about puked. Right on, sister–I was on that train. 🙂

  • Pingback: My Chronic Pain Battle Part III: The Cat Came Back the Very Next Day – Stories of Our Boys

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