Healing Sciatica using the Feldenkrais Method® By Greg Dennis

Many people turn to the Feldenkrais Method for relief from conditions that have not been healed by other methods. One such condition is sciatica, a chronic pain in the buttock and leg that is caused by pressure upon the sciatic nerve.

Among those who have found tremendous relief from sciatica through the Feldenkrais Method is Ramon Castro, a veteran San Diego criminal defense lawyer who retired earlier this year after practicing law for 37 years. Ramon first experienced radiating pain down his left leg last fall. “Eventually my entire leg hurt,” he recalls. “I was in very serious pain. I had a severe problem.”

Ramon consulted with a San Diego orthopedic surgeon who had treated him several times over the years since Ramon had been in a serious auto accident in 1966. The surgeon told Ramon he had a buildup of calcium in the nerve canals of the spine, known as stenosis. He put Ramon on a six-week program of twice-weekly physical therapy.

But when the physical therapy ended in the mid-December, Ramon had experienced only occasional relief from the chronic pain. A subsequent MRI revealed that a disk in his lower back was bulging out and impinging upon his sciatic nerve.

The physician had told Ramon that surgery might well be necessary, but Ramon was determined to find a non-surgical solution. Yet by Super Bowl Sunday, the pain was so bad, “I could hardly walk from the kitchen to the bedroom,” Ramon remembers. He had reached the point, in fact, where he was considering using crutches just to get around, and he had begun to think at times of having the surgery.

On the recommendation of a friend who had received Functional Integration lessons from Donna Ray, Ramon decided in mid-January to consult with Donna. She began giving him twice-weekly Functional Integration lessons, and she also had him attend a weekly ATM lesson taught at the Feldenkrais Southern California Movement Institute by Denise Bergh, and do daily lessons listening to ATM tapes at home.

“I didn’t really notice anything for about two weeks, but then I noticed that my pain was starting to subside and that I could walk better,” he says. Soon the improvement was so dramatic that after two months of regular lessons, Ramon joined his wife and two others on a long auto trip to southern Mexico. “I could walk, I had no pain, and I drove all the way down there and all the way back,” he notes with satisfaction.

Eventually, he began receiving an FI lesson just once a month, in addition to doing tapes regularly at home. And he has been enjoying the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method. “I haven’t had a problem yet with my leg or back,” he says, noting that when necessary, he has been able to engage in such strenuous activities as digging ditches, planting trees, and cutting wood.

Even better, Ramon has seen improvements in other long-term physical problems. His other leg, which was injured in the auto accident, is no longer as swollen as it used to be. “A lot of little pains that I had in my neck have disappeared, too,” he adds. “I am absolutely convinced this method works.”