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Sciatica Causes,
Symptoms, Treatments,
and Prevention Measures

Sciatica Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention Measures

Sciatica Pain

You’re probably familiar with the concept of sciatica if you’re over the age of 30. Perhaps a friend has health with sciatica, or maybe you’ve experience sciatica pain yourself. Either way, it’s a subject that you’ll want to get familiar with, because sooner or later you might have to deal with issues surrounding sciatica and treatment.

Symptoms of Sciatica Pain

Sciatica pain can manifest itself in a variety of ways:

  • Sensory pain that causes leg numbness or pins and needles
  • Sharp lower back pain
  • Lower back pain on the left side
  • Sudden lower back pain
  • Back spasms
  • Middle back pain
  • Piriformis Syndrome (buttock spasms that irritate the sciatic nerve)
  • Muscular pain that makes walking difficult
  • Burning sensation or foot numbness and weakness

When symptoms present, you’re likely to endure a decreased quality of life that can lead to:

  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Discomfort
  • Reduced mobility
  • Withdrawal from social life

If you don’t want the downtime and decreased productivity that comes along with sciatica, it’s wise to do all that you can to prevent the occurrence of it (or anything remotely close to being associated with it) on a daily basis. You’ll want to start by maintaining a healthy spine.
In fact, if you stick around until the end of this article, you’re bound to find a few helpful tips that will be useful to achieve that goal. We’ll get to all of that shortly. First, let’s discuss your anatomy so you get a solid understanding of all the body parts that are involved with the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Pain

The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It’s a complex collection of nerves that originates in the lower back, pass through the pelvis, and down the back of the thighs.
“In the back of the thigh, the sciatic nerve branches into two smaller nerves called the tibial nerve and the peroneal nerve. The sciatic nerve carries impulses between nerve roots in the lower back and the muscles and nerves of the buttocks, thighs, and lower legs.”
HealthCommunities.com
You can get a visual of sciatica nerve anatomy by watching a video created by Spine-Health. To watch the short, informative video, just click the play button below.

Here’s How Sciatica Occurs

In order to experience actual sciatica, pressure or irritation in one of the nerve roots located in the lumbar spine (which leads to the sciatic nerve) has to exist. This pressure or irritation usually occurs when there is a vertebral disc in the spine that’s become herniated. When a damaged disc is present, it’s likely to cause radiculopathy, which is the pain that pulses or shoots through the network of sciatic nerves that meet in the lower lumbar region. The common events that take place prior to sciatica vary. Events range from blunt force trauma to even the most mundane activities. Here is a list of the more common things known to trigger the issue:

  • Age. People ages 30 to 50
  • Weight. People who are overweight or pregnant put extra stress on their spines, and are more likely to experience a herniated disc.
  • Your job. Physical labor can cause stress on the spine due to moving heavy objects. However, a traveling salesman who’s exposed to prolonged periods of sitting can put stress on the lower lumbar region of the back.
  • Sleeping awkwardly. The resting position you choose can cause unnecessary stress on vertebrae in the spine.

Here’s How You Can Treat Sciatica Pain at Home

Ideally, for mild to moderate pain you should expect inflammation to subside and normal mobility to return in around 6 weeks or less. Here are 7 things you can rely on to relieve discomfort and lend hand to a rapid recovery.

HOT OR COLD COMPRESS

Relax the muscles around the sciatic nerve with heat treatment. Switch to cold therapy to reduce swelling and numb the pain. Make sure you alternate between hot and cold treatment for 15-minute intervals to get the most relief.

NSAIDS

These over the counter drugs can help reduce inflammation, which is a root cause of sciatica pain. Taking them should help ease some of the discomfort you’re experiencing.

MASSAGE

This treatment is especially effective when you’re experiencing muscle spasms. In fact, it may even promote faster healing. Add St. John’s wart to the affected area 2 to 3 times daily, and you have another effective way to reduce inflammation.

TURMERIC

This ancient herb has been used for thousands of years in India. It contains circumin which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. You can consume it as a drink. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to 1 cup of milk. Then add a small cinnamon stick (optional). Boil the solution. Sweeten with honey and drink it once or twice daily until pain is gone.

STRETCHING

While it might be challenging, it’s wise to keep your body in motion when dealing with back pain and inflammation. Make sure you begin a regular routine within 48 hours of a flare up. Perform the following exercises to loosen up tight muscles:
  • Reclining Pigeon Pose
  • Sitting Pigeon Pose
  • Forward Pigeon Pose
  • Knee to Opposite Shoulder
  • Sitting Spinal Stretch
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch
Each can be seen in full detail by following the instructional videos in an article provided by Healthline.com.

VALERIA TEA

This perennial flowering plant is native to Europe and Asia. It relieves chronic nerve pain by relaxing tight muscles and is particularly good when you’re experiencing sciatica pain caused by a spasms. Mix 150 mg of the root with 1 cup of hot water 3 times a day for several weeks. Consult your physician if symptoms don’t subside within that time frame.

CAPSAICIN CREAM

This popular over the counter remedy is available by many brands. Cayenne pepper is the active ingredient. Rub on the affected area up to 4 times daily for soothing relief.

More severe cases of sciatica pain will require professional attention. While a trip to an outpatient center might seem like a good idea, there are better alternatives. Seeking care from a chiropractor or physiotherapist will likely provide the best results.

How Chiropractor’s Treat Sciatica Pain

If you want to address the root cause of your pain, getting a consultation and receiving treatment from a licensed chiropractor is a good way to go. You’ll receive diagnosis that includes a review of your medical history, physical and neurological exams. Chiropractors strive to use your body’s capability to heal itself, and there are many benefits of chiropractic care. In fact, these specialists usually recommend that you schedule a consultation at onset because the techniques they use can aid in a swift recovery.

Therapy can vary from one chiropractor to the next, which is based on their training, skill set, and equipment preference. Here are a few of the more common techniques that are widely available:

  1. Ice Therapy – Cold packs are applied to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation.
  2. Ultrasound – Sound waves are used to create gentle heat to penetrate deep into muscle tissue. It is especially useful for treating spasms.
  3. TENS Unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) – This portable muscle stimulation machine relies on electrical current to relax tight muscles and relieve pain.
  4. Spine Adjustments – This is the foundation of chiropractic care. Manual manipulation is used to correct spine alignment and restore mobility for impaired patients. The procedure is safe and gentle when performed by a licensed professional.
  5. Decompression Therapy – Patients are placed on a motorized traction table to stretch the spine. In theory, the procedure is used to relieve pressure on herniated discs to release healing nutrients into the afflicted area.
When patients don’t respond to noninvasive procedures, surgery becomes the next alternative.

When Spinal Surgery Becomes Necessary

When other methods fail to ease pain, surgery is the last resort.

Fortunately, true sciatica only occurs in just 5% of patients, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll need this type of procedure. When an operation is needed, discectomy is a common approach.

A discectomy is performed by removing a portion of the herniated disc that is irritating the nerve root. The surgeon removes the offending disc through a small incision in the back, and the nerve is gently moved aside to remove pressure.

See full details in the video below posted on Spine-Health.com.

Spinal operations are successful at relieving most of the pain about 90% of the time. Recovery to full mobility is expected to occur in 1 to 3 weeks. If you want the best chance to avoid back pain and sciatica it’s important to perform stretches that strengthen the core, just like the ones previously mentioned. Sleeping on a mattress that provides the right type of firmness for your personal needs is a great way to keep a healthy spine as well.

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FAQ:

There are a variety of options available. Try using NSAIDS, Caspian cream, and performing stretches that strengthen the core (e.g. Sitting and Forward Pigeon). A quick Google search will produce results for video demonstrations.

You should alternate between the two options using each for 15-minute intervals to control inflammation and provide relief to the affected area.

Try lying flat on you back, then left the leg where the buttocks is affected in the air with feet pointed towards the ceiling. Special seat cushions are available too.
The most common cause stems from a torn or pulled muscle. However, work activities, sports activities, and even sleeping awkwardly can trigger a flare up.
Yes, because muscles tend to be more tense when stressed, and this can lead to mild to severe back pain in both the upper and lower back.
This could be a signal that you have a herniated disc, slipped disc, or pinched nerve. A professional consultation with a chiropractor is advised for proper diagnosis.
There is a possibility of cancer because tumors on the spine can cause back pain. However, it’s important not to panic as 80% of people will experience back pain issues in their lifetime, without a diagnosis of cancer. You should consult your doctor if you think you might have cancer.
You should seek medical attention if your back pain is accompanied by a fever, or lasts more than a 8 weeks.
Adjust your standing or sitting posture. Stretch. Get plenty of rest. Apply cold and hot compress to the affected in area alternating between each in 15 minute intervals for an hour each session. You can also try over the counter medications like NSAIDs or capsaicin creams.
Muscle weakness may occur. The pain may also radiate into a different area of the body- such as the legs. In addition, the pinched nerve can eventually lead to nerve damage.
Mild sciatica usually lasts 4 to 8 weeks, and medical attention isn’t necessary.

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