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Posted in: Chronic pain, and Sciatica.

Extreme muscle tightness and sciatica

Started by biobabe on 06/27/2012 2:56pm

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone else experiences extreme leg tightness with their sciatica as these two things seemed to be linked in my situation.

When I began having pain several years ago, I remember my leg muscles being so tight and antzy almost to the point of being painful if I didn't move them. At first, my symptoms decreased with a bit of exercise and stretching, but then I got to the point where my leg muscles got so tight that I had to stop most activities. Even walking became difficult.

Now, I am stuck in a viscous cycle of being able to walk around for a while, but then doing too much movement one day and getting extremely tight leg muscles which last for about four days. I've tried to monitor and control my movement, but ridiculously little amounts of movement seem to irritate it sometimes Then, once the tightness subsides, I have to add walking and standing again very slowly, so as to not bring on the tightness again. It is frustrating as I seem to be going in circles.

After the tightness dies down is when I really start noticing the sciatica. I feel cramping in the leg muscles, sharp, stabbing pains in my hips, hamstrings, calves and feet, tingling or buzzing in my feet, muscle spasms in all of the different leg muscles, burning in my hamstrings, and changes in skin temperature and color -e.g. blue feet or hot bright red feet. These symptoms decrease as I build up walking and muscle strength again. However, if I do too much one day it's right back to square one.

My doctors believe my sciatica might be caused by scar tissue in my hamstrings, the sciatic nerve being trapped in the hamstrings,or by extremely tight hamstring muscles. I am waiting on an MRI on my pelvis/ hamstrings to get some inkling of what might be causing the problem.

I'd love to hear from you if this sounds vaguely familiar to any of you at all!


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I have been suffering from leg pain which restricts my daily activities for the past four years. My pain began the day after my c-section 2008. After 3 back specialsits and multiple tests I finally ended up at Texas Back Institute and had disc replacement at L4-L5. Before surgery I was a 7-9 daily on the pain scale and could walk maybe half a block before I'd be dragging my left leg. My daily meds were crazy, the amount of narcotics alone scared me. Now 2 years out I'm no where close to where I was but...I'm still in pain every day and unable to be "normal". I did have the tightness you described but I was put through 2 rounds of physical therapy before surgery and a 3 month stint since surgery which relieved that tightness. I weaned off all meds 6 months ago and can't make the trip through the grocery store without suffering the rest of the day. I'd like to hear more about any advice you receive as I'm searching for new treatments. I feel your frustration, I know that others have a very hard time understanding how, well exhausting chronic pain can be


Hi cd74,

Sorry to hear you are in such pain, as well! My heart goes out to you! Hugs!!

What sort of leg pain do you experience now? Does it feel like sciatica (burning, stabbing, tingling, etc?)?


My pain kind of varies depending on what kind of day/how much activity. Most of the time it is a dull ache radiating down the back of my left leg, past the knee and into the calf. It gets sharper with activity, kind of feels like I'm hitting an electric fence. Then I have a second area on my left foot, if you drew a line from the ankle across the top to the last 2 toes, that section is a sharper stabbing pain and occasionally it suddenly feels like just that part of my foot is being held up to a flame--really burns! I'm having trouble deciding what to try next. I know that the ruptured disc is no longer pinching the nerve (its gone) and a discogram showed no scar tissue or anything else pinching it. My surgeon kept suggesting the nerve was irritated by the surgey and would just eventually calm down, he thought 3-6 mos. but its been 2 years. My pain management dr thinks it is nerve damage and most likely permanent. I figure with all the tech. surely there is some kind of treatment for me (not more drugs). I just need to find the right dr or someone who's been through this before and found help! Have you had any steriod injections yet? I had some before surgery and some since too. The first 2 I had really did give me some relief (3-4 weeks) from the tightness and spasms. As I continued to go downhill they stopped working for me. I was able to do PT and get my tendons,etc. stretched out while I had that relief. Take care


Hi again,

Hmmm. That's tricky. Sounds like they don't know 100% what is causing the nerve pain. I am in the same boat.

I started doing active release technique (ART) for my nerve pain about three weeks ago and it has helped dramatically. However, I don't believe my nerve pain resulted from a back issue, like yours does perhaps .I have had MRIs on my spine/ lumbar spine to rule that out and don't typically experience back pain.

Might I suggest the daily strength forum online if you are looking for others with similar problems to talk to? I find that site super helpful and there's a number of different forums for a variety of conditions.

Best of luck!!