My First Experience With Sciatica

sciatica back pain surfing kona



When I was 20 years old, I was going to school full-time, working as a lifeguard and surf instructor, and volunteering for the rescue squad. As a volunteer I was part of an extraction unit that specialized in removing victims from car accidents. Having my body be always ready for any wave or rescue was very important to me.

Brett, Meet Sciatica

On one morning, I woke up with intense back pain. At this stage in my life, I had never experienced back pain before. I went about my usual day, which started off with me sitting in the classroom for about eight hours or so. Throughout the day, the pain got worse to the point where I could barely walk or sit. That evening, I noticed that my left hip had shifted to the side and that my back and hips looked very awkward. At that point, I did what most people would do and scheduled an appointment with my doctor. doctor. My doctor ordered an MRI that revealed I had greatly herniated my L5-S1 and L4-L5 discs. The MRI report also contained used a lot of scary terms like to degenerative disc disease which gave me concern if this was going to stay with me, and potentially get worse, throughout my life.

My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who told me that if my sciatica, or numbness and pain down my left leg, didn’t get better, they would need to fuse my back. Keep in mind that at that stage my life I had not been to physical therapy school and had no idea what these injuries were all about.

Like most people I started to become extremely worried. I was still so young and I knew that back pain ended a lot of people’s surfing careers and some even were put on disability. I was weary that my days of surfing professional contests were over and I felt vulnerable.  I was so used to being the big strong guy that could rescue people out of trouble waters and pull people out of crashed cars. The thought of not being able to do those things led me to feel a small bit of an identity crisis.

Preventing Sciatica From Coming Back

I knew that those discs in my back would never un-herniate or be like they were before. But I also learned that just because you have slipped discs does not mean you have to experience sciatica. Only when a herniated disk irritates nearby nerves will pain, numbness or weakness be experienced.

To prevent sciatica, I learned how to use my body properly.  I couldn’t believe that for so many years I had no idea how to bend, lift, sit or even stand properly.  In a lot of ways my slipped disc became a blessing in disguise. Because of the injury, I learned postures and movement patterns that have relieved stress on my knees, hips and lower back for decades to come. As a result of sciatica and learning how to move properly, I became a better surfer than I ever was before. I became a better surfer because those same postures applied to bending and squatting correctly also apply to surfing better.

I now have a very happy low back.  Sciatica doesn’t have to be complicated. Actually, the solutions are incredibly simple and easy to apply.  Turn you injury into an opportunity to become a better athlete or at least have better posture that will pay dividends towards pain relief long into the future…

Sciatica Kona Physical Therapy Hawaii

It has been 11 years since I first had sciatica. And I have to say that this point that old injury does not negatively impact my life at all. If I went back to slouching and lifting improperly, I am sure the back pain would return. There are a few stretches I do every morning to keep my hips limber so that bending and squatting properly stay easy.

Bottom Line: Just because you have sciatica doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the activities that you love. The emphasis for any sciatica treatment should be using the body properly. The exercises should assist with providing the strength and flexibility needed to avoid movement patterns that worsen sciatic symptoms (slouching, lifting with back, sitting inactively). Contact your local physical therapists to learn how you can continue to do the things you love doing – even if you have sciatica.

  1. Benjamin Adams 6 years ago

    This was really interesting to read. I suppose when your back isn’t a problem, you don’t think your posture is bad. I suffer from sciatica and I’ve also learnt a lot about posture and having an office job isn’t the greatest, but learning how to sit at an office chair properly and making sure I don’t damage my back further is vital.

  2. Arik Das 6 years ago

    This was a helpful blog. My mother has sciatica so I am alwasy looking for more information.

  3. Shobir 5 years ago

    Really interesting post.
    I’ve also experienced Sciatica and it does affect your quality of life.
    I’ve been using back stretchers for about a year now and my Sciatica pain is nearly gone.
    Have you tried using a back stretcher to overcome pain or manage it?

  4. Kyle Worrall 5 years ago

    So true, I had sciatica for almost two years and also lower back pain. I found the most important thing wad to maintain good posture and good habits with sitting standing driving ect. There needs to be more emphasis on this and less on painkillers for treatment.

  5. Minima 5 years ago

    An inspiring story glad to read that. Sciatica is really a chronic disease which irritates a lot and disturbs your mind. But you tackled it amazingly. Stinging and numbness are very common nerve pain and severe as well.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for sharing the best posts they very nice and very help us. You made a good site its very interesting one. I am very impressed with your job about this category that you did well. Thank you all

  7. Benn 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your personal story with us.

  8. Mike Williams 5 years ago

    Very interesting experiential story. And I like your positive outlook towards the condition. Too bad not everyone can relate, especially if they have a very low threshold to pain. Thanks for this post.

  9. Mahesh Singh 5 years ago

    Good blog, excellent information given about how to prevent sciatica pain from coming back, thank you for sharing such a helpful blog.

  10. Barbara Farfan 8 months ago

    Your story is a true inspiration! My first (and only) Sciatica attack happened during global lockdown in 2020 and I had no choice but to figure out how to help myself. And, I’m happy to say I DID! I used my own TRIAGE strategy and it was all natural. Just like you, I found that the body has an amazing ability to heal itself with a little natural support.

    There’s so much “once-sciatica-always-sciatica” doom and gloom information on the Internet ,and if you buy into that, you’ll create that lifelong limited reality. Thanks for providing a positive vision of what’s possible. it’s the same reason why I wrote a little kindle about Sciatica.

  11. Haven Painrelief 2 months ago

    The blogs are really appreciable and one can trust the knowledge and information provided in the writing.

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