Sciatica Pain Gone through Military Experience Knowledge

5 02 2020

5 February 2020 by Marc Woodard

[Marc is the soldier in the featured image overlooking Camp San Louis Obispo, CA – during active duty training, 2002]

What is sciatica and what is the best way to manage, alleviate or remove it?

Through my military experience I found a treatment path which led to complete reversal of my sciatic pain problem. A pain problem that afflicted me throughout my 20 year military career. Below under “Sciatica Pain Experience During My Military Career,” I detail my experience and findings and treatment course once I connected all the dots. Possibly these pain alleviation modalities could work to relieve and/or reverse your sciatica problem without surgery.

Sciatica in short, refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve [webmd 2020]. Sciatica (nerve pain) can be caused through numerous factors: incorrect posture, genetic deformities, injury or overuse of back muscles, or when the vertebra discs become defective or inefficient at absorbing vertebrae structural stress, or the bone itself is compromised then impinge upon the sciatic nerve. Sciatica isn’t actually a condition, but instead a medical term used to describe symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, prickly sensation and shooting pain down the leg to foot. The cause of sciatica varies in pathology but can be effectively alleviated without surgery, or non-intrusive surgery in many cases… such as mine was the case.

Skeletal compression, or impingement often occurs at vertebra’s L4-5 (lumbar) to S1-2 (Sacrum).

Sciatica pain in the lower back and extremities are often caused by injury, over-stressed muscular skeletal system, poor postural alignment and bad genetics; whereas soft tissue and/or skeletal compression, or impingement often occurs at vertebra’s L4-5 (lumbar) to S1-2 (Sacrum). Pain and swelling events can be isolated in the lower back and/or felt anywhere down the lower extremities at various frequency, duration and intensity throughout the day once aggravated by any number of postural load imbalances.

The six most common spinal disorders that cause spinal nerve compression and sciatica lumbar radiculopathy (radiating pain) are

1) Bulging or herniated disc (The gel-like center of the disc mal-forms creating nerve compression and swelling around the sciatica nerve). 2) Spinal stenosis (nerve compression through narrowing or clogged nerve pathway – brought about by standing or walking and relieved by sitting down). 3) Spondylolisthesis (Characterized by slipping and displaced vertebrae – acquired at birth and developed through childhood, trauma or physical stress. 4) Trauma (accident injury, sports, weight lifting, etc.). 5) Piriformis syndrome (named for the low back piriformis muscle impinging and irritating the sciatic nerve. This condition is also very difficult to diagnose and treat due to lack of findings through x-ray and MRI findings). 6) Spinal tumors (although tumors are rare in the lumbar region, benign or cancerous (malignant) tumors can develop creating nerve compression. Fortunately, this is a rare.

Those who suffer from sciatica should also be aware of the term radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a term often used to describe radiating pain from its origin. In the case of sciatic nerve and radiating pain problems, this pain origin occurs at L5-S1 vertebrae [refer to images above]. When there is a low back nerve impingement, or compression condition on the right side of the lower back for example, and it causes pain and/or numbness down one side of the buttocks and/or thigh-to-foot-to-toe… This is a radiating or radiculopathy neural pain symptom. The pain travels distant from the lower back pain origin. Many patients who experience radiculopathy symptoms absent of low back pain don’t relate the pain stemming from a low back problem. For others the low back symptoms may be a feeling of achenes and stiffness, but not produce radiating pain. At this point in time, the low back is likely stressed and requires early medical diagnosis and treatment to avoid future episodes and worsening a low back condition.

Although symptoms of radiculopathy pain in the low back may occur at the same time as a burning and/or prickly sensation down the leg and toes – patients “at first” rarely associate this pain originating from the low back. Unless pain in the low back occurs simultaneously at the same time it is felt in the lower extremities.

To get treatment for low back sciatica and radiculopathy pain, see your primary care physician and ask to be referred to a physiatrist. This is a medical doctor who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation [also called PM&R physicians]. A Physiatrist is a pain specialist doctor who diagnoses and treats both acute and chronic pain in a wide variety of nonsurgical treatments for the Neuromusculoskeletal system” (google 2020); and can refer surgical intervention if determined the best treatment course. The sciatic problem can be diagnosed through use of x-rays, CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography – 3 dimensional, multiple cross-sectional picture technology) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Magnetism produces images of body structure).

Sciatica Pain Experience During My Military Career

When I was younger, I associated the numbness in my right calf and foot with military issued boots at the beginning of my 20 year military service. Foot discomfort and back pain seemed to go along with the territory. There was much conversation between soldiers regarding military issued boots also suspected of causing knee, hip and lower back pain. Foot pain was a given in the military. Everyone I knew during basic and advanced soldier training had foot problems as a result of wearing those boots.

Military issued boots in the 80’s and 90’s had no posture corrective insoles. And the exterior leather required a lot of wear and tear treatment/ conditioning to make it comfortable to wear around the foot all day long. Although a pre-wear and tear treatment process helped condition to break in the boot… imbalanced pressures on the soul and side of foot and toes often caused painful hot spots, even after the boots were broke in.

I like many other soldiers began limping acutely during basic training… I also continued wearing those basic boots for the first 5 years of service limping at various times. I had no ideal through this time they were the cause of my low back pain. The postural imbalances were further aggravated by intense occupational work load [field training] on my body, which further compromised the lower back alignment and weakened the area – causing swelling around the sciatic nerve. In time, pain was felt from the lower back, buttocks, leg and foot [radiculopathy].

It only took 5 years of improper foot wear to permanently put me in a hurt locker. Ultimately my back problems became chronic for 3 years of my last years of service. I did purchase boots approved by the military with proper insoles… about my 6th year of service which alleviated the radiculopathy but not my back problems. Regardless I did complete 20 years of combined military service. However the damage was done and that was not the end of my physical pain challenge. My pain challenge is fully covered within Ageless MirrorAthlete “Overweight and Unfit No More.” The pain challenge is a continuing story at the end of each chapter that connects well with “how to live life to the fullest” regardless of mental, physical or spiritual pain challenges. Click on the link below to read the free preview at Amazon.com and please provide a rating review after you’ve read the book. Thank you for your support.

I’ve written articles on acupuncture and how it helped alleviate my sciatic pain. And ultimately led to complete remission of sciatica pain. Maybe it will work for you like it did for me. Just search under acupuncture in MirrorAthlete archives and you’ll find other articles.

I highly recommend if you are serving in the military or an avid hiker

Invest in a pair of Danner, or Bates boots of good thermal water resistant and good insole quality. Then throw those basic military issued, or over worn boots in the trash.

Basic Issued Military Boots were the the cause of my postural weight bearing load misalignment and cause of acute foot and back and neck pain for years. And thereafter chronic pain problems occurred in the lower back, worsened and radiated downward. I had no ideal in my twenties how important proper foot ware and customized and corrective insoles were to Neuromusculoskeletal health of the feet and the rest of my bodily alignment.

One would think with the science behind many foot related back and neck pain problems – the feet would be of great pain prevention interest and at a minimum the military would invest in proper weight bearing boots with foot analysis that custom fit proper insoles to be place within the boot. This foot pain prevention process would have a return on tax paid investment – i.e., reduced sick call incidents, higher soldier productivity and fewer disability claims that retire trained soldiers early on…, etc. Until any boot or “almost any” shoe is broken in, or has bad insoles, or none at all… this creates hot spots and/or blisters everyone can relate too. And when the feet don’t get relief, limping occurs. If something doesn’t change, pain can be felt in other weight bearing joints. I believe military issued boots should be of the highest postural and corrective weight load bearing quality, Solders work their bodies hard in the field and put their lives on the line and deserve the best gear money can buy and this includes foot wear. They also deserve to end their service commitment without pain and injury caused by inferior foot wear that also causes harm to other parts of the body.

If your feet have little to no arch, it would be wise to invest in good foot insole orthodics to provide a supportive arch and alleviate foot pain and calf cramps. Improper foot ware “when not corrected” will cause further breakdown of the foots mechanical-muscular structural integrity and then work that aggravation upward – putting pressure on other weight bearing joints. The bodies posture works to re-align itself around an articulating joint pain center. Better known as guarding. This is why you see people limping. E.g., the compromised [pain problem] side is guarded by the side not experiencing pain. Therefore it takes on an additional load burden moving the body forward, putting additional stress on the non-compromised side.

I have corrective insole in every shoe I wear. Simply rip out the manufacturers flat insole and replace it with a corrective insole – purchase them in pharmacies with free foot analysis equipment. Stand on the foot analysis machine. It analysis foot pressure points and refers an insole for less than 1/2 price of podiatrist prescribed orthodic.

When limping continues too long without correction the body adapts to compensate and create a new gait norm to alleviate pain. Realignment during guarding puts more stress on other weight bearing joints and causes an imbalanced mechanical disadvantage during the gait. When this is the case the weight bearing joints are susceptible to aggravation and injury because the anatomical posture is imbalanced and eventually becomes compromised.

Dr. Bernard Filner, MD, says, a significant number of people, including many of his patients, contemplate surgery because they hurt so badly – but most of the time, by using a Posture Control Insole can alleviate the pain and avoid surgery. … Your feet play an integral role in maintaining a pain free posture, including proper curvature of the spine. Modest changes in your posture provide the potential for complete relief of low-back pain. If you are in pain, even if you have tried custom orthotics without success, please try Posture Control Insoles before you try surgery, said Dr. Filner.

As previously mentioned – most who suffer acute to chronic sciatic symptoms experience numbness, tingly to prickly sensation to excruciating sharp – jolting pain from the buttocks down the leg and foot. … I experienced radiating pain at times as an achy to chronic electrical pain sensation which was horrible and nearly knocked my off my feet at times when it struck.

For me acute sciatica feels like short bouts of being zapped by electricity and a burning , or tingling/prickly sensation when it occurred. One way to know when the worse case pain scenario will occur… you’ll experience a numbness and swelling in your lower back and loss of sensation in parts of your leg/calf/big toe with prickly sensations. At least for me that’s how my acute converted to chronic pain episodes. When a chronic episode occurred, the pain and swelling afterwords was so severe, I stayed off my feet for a couple of days. Only anti-inflammatory, ice, physical therapy and bed rest helped get back on my feet.

I’ve known many people – including myself go years suffering with low back sciatic pain and use prescription pain killers, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory to treat the symptoms with rest. Other outpatient treatments include steroid injections, chiropractic and physical therapy sessions and acupuncture, etc., that work temporarily, or permanently but may/may not fix the underlying weight bearing integrity problems without surgery. Patients who ignore infrequent episodes of back pain, or sciatic symptoms… without proper diagnosis can unknowingly create an irreversible pain condition that may have been preventable and without need of surgical intervention.

Foot insoles may be the cure to remove a sciatic Pain Problem

I chose not to go through surgery. After years of working with specialists, I learned what worked for me. It was a combination of acupuncture and corrective insoles that abated my sciatic pain. I only wish I could have had someone tell me the exact treatment course that would work for me after experiencing 20 years of sciatic and radiating pain. Will this treatment course work for you? That’s hard to say. Everyone is so different. But until you make the time to get a physiatrist referral from your primary care physician you’ll likely continue the fast track pain alleviation plan like I did… pain pills, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants… “which won’t fix you, and your pain episodes and weight bearing bodily damage will likely worsen.”

Correcting posture at the feet first – in “most cases” when foot, knee and back problems first occur, including sciatic pain … corrective insoles are often the pain relief solution! However with this being said, there is no guarantee as you age a sciatic problem with radiating symptoms “will not” become worse. We are talking about pain alleviation through proper anatomical foot insole alignment that will not worsen a back-pain condition. But its good to know nearly all back problems can be corrected and/or alleviated without surgery when proper postural foot alignment “at the sole” is made in a timely manner.

Most back pain can be resolved without surgery if both doctors and patients are willing to try other treatments that basically help the back to heal itself (Dr. Richard Deyo, University of Washington, and Consumer Health Interactive Magazine).

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, Captain ARNG Retired. 2009-2020 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





L-Tryptophan the Obesity, Depression & ADD Silver Bullet Solution?

23 05 2019

Updated by Marc Woodard, 2/27/20

What is dietary Tryptophan and how can it help you lose weight and reduce anxiety?

It is one of the 8 essential amino acids our bodies require to function correctly. It is found naturally in varying degrees within food we eat, such as red meat, milk, eggs, turkey, bananas and chocolate, etc.

How does IMG_20130405_174848Tryptophan work to produce benefits for our bodies that could promote natural weight loss, reduce anxiety, increase happiness, remove depression, and promote good sleep? Could it be possible this essential amino acid supplemented within a diet and known as L-Tryptophan could also help with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) for you and your children?

The answers will surprise, anger and shock many of you about the health benefits our pharmaceutical industries don’t want you to fully realize. This is because the prescription industry is a billion (s) dollar industries that do not want to give up its prescription turf!

Ageless MirrorAthlete has all the consumer information you need and want now – live life to the fullest today!

Let’s first cover a bit of history. Back in 1991 the US government banned the dietary supplement L-Tryptophan because it was linked to a large outbreak of a deadly disease that killed 38 people in a 1989 study. After 10 years had passed without incident of use in Europe, the US loosened its marketing restriction on the substance in 2001. Like anything else, if misused any product may cause ill-health conditions. Like many competitive industries, and most specifically our pharmaceutical industries back in 1989, they took full advantage of this disaster and profited in the market place by denouncing L-Tryptophan supplementation and created a whole slew of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals to mimic the benefits of this essential amino acid.

As you will read below, there are still risks of using L-Tryptophan if not used correctly. But I believe the pharmaceutical cocktail mixes our doctors now prescribe to you and your children have greater risk to health than this natural occurring supplement found in a balanced diet. So instead of this industry improving a safe version of this supplement, it appears it was more profitable to create a whole lot of other products to achieve the same result at greater expense with increased health risk.

How does this amino acid work in our bodies to promote health benefits?

Our bodies need serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters which are bio-brain chemicals that allow proper function of our physiology. Our bodies do not manufacture these neurotransmitters without this amino acid in the diet. IMG_20130405_174935That’s what essential means… our body can’t produce this amino acid on its own, and it has to be obtained through the diet.

This is important why? Because without enough of this essential amino acid – any one of us stand a good chance of suffering from one, or any combination of ill-health condition of varying degree… such as, migraines, low energy, sleepless nights, improper weight regulation, obesity, depression, anxiety and hyperactivity.

If your diet is predominately low protein-high carbohydrate, you are at greater risk of ill-health. When dietary balance is one of high sugar-fat and low protein you reduce the uptake of essential nutrients needed to sustain balanced body chemicals and good health.IMG_20130405_175411

Fortunately, more consumers today are educated on proper use and benefits of L-Tryptophan. It is making a big comeback in the mainstream weight loss, anti-anxiety/depression and ADD marketplace.

As you can imagine there is big opposition to this movement from the pharmaceutical industry because there is much profit to be lost once consumers wean off unnecessary pharmaceuticals.

I’m not saying all man-made products are without merit. However, all too often, our physicians and psychiatrists are too quick to prescribe a pill when the answer to the problem could be very simple – a poor diet, or need to simply supplement the diet with an essential amino acid to stimulate the production of the necessary neurotransmitter chemical.

Can supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan help us regulate and reduce weight?

Science shows this supplement can greatly reduce our cravings for sweets and carbohydrates.

When dieting our serotonin levels appear to decrease which creates a carbohydrate binging and cravings effect.

When our serotonin levels remain low there is a direct correlation with weight gain and obesity. We know this binging and craving effect as the Yo-Yo effect.

There are known side effects of taking L-Tryptophan if proper dosages and impure quality grade are not considered. Unlike Tryptophan extracted from the foods in our diet, there appears to be no health risk. But like anything else we put in our bodies, if you consume too much with frequency, a negative to no benefit effect can result making the body ill.

Here is a list of possible side effects when misusing, or using L-Tryptophan: Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS), or serotonin syndrome.  

Symptoms include severe muscle pain, fatigue, and nerve pain, hair loss, rash, dry thickened skin, or skin changes. High eosinophil levels are found in the blood when supplementation has gone wrong. Also when recommended dosages are disregarded, excess toxic waste in the body can impact the brain bringing on psychotic symptoms. This may include confusion, seeing, or hearing things, fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, diarrhea, difficulty walking. Allergic reactions may include: Rash, hives, itching, swelling of mouth/throat, wheezing, or breathing difficulty. Science still cannot tell us if EMS is the result of impure or specific brand L-tryptophan that had contaminants. But for best results, it’s best to ensure a quality pharmaceutical grade for safe use.

If L-Tryptophan is supplemented within the right dosages, the scientific data shows the brain will manufacture balanced serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters promoting a cheerful mood, assist in weight reduction, relieve anxiety, reduce migraine, reduce hyperactivity, reduce depression and promote healthy sleep patterns. Sounds like the same benefits you’d receive from a doctor’s prescription, does it not? Because this supplement also has many potential risks like prescriptions; it would be prudent to work with your primary care physician if interested in supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan.

This essential acid is also responsible for manufacturing the neurotransmitter Melatonin  [resulting in healthy sleep patterns]. Melatonin can be purchased over-the-counter in many retail stores.

I’ve used melatonin after working grave yard shifts and can tell you it works very well to induce sleep. But if you’re getting enough tryptophan from a balanced diet – sleepless nights may become less frequent. DSC00297Of course, bodies are all different in ability to process Tryptophan and manufacture serotonin and melatonin, so these dietary  truths and resulting effects will vary and affect each individual differently.

If you’d been advised to reduce the cholesterol in your diet, this may likely lead to a reduction of this essential amino acid. I have not supplemented my diet with L-Tryptophan, but would do so If I felt I couldn’t get this essential amino acid from the foods I eat daily.

Recommendations:

If you or your child suffer from ADD, obesity, anxiety, depression and insomnia, consider balanced diet and/or supplement with natural Trpytophan, or a high quality L-Trpytophan prescribed by a physician.

Understand there are literally thousands of Internet links and library resources on this topic. There is much to be interpreted and derived from the data I found outside of the two links listed below. I see the positive benefits of balanced diet and supplementation if needed. The pharmaceutical and psychiatric community does not share a similar enthusiasm over the benefits of supplementation.

Research the Internet and read up on diet Tryptophan versus supplement L-Tryptophan and how it may be your silver bullet to weaning off of pharmaceuticals and promoting a good health to meet your fit healthy and well-being goals.

Good health to you and your family!

Research Links:

http://www.weight-loss-center.net/L-tryptophan.html

http://mental-health.emedtv.com/l-tryptophan/l-tryptophan-side-effects.html

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2010-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.