What is Sciatica and How to Cure it?

What is Sciatica and How to Cure it?

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Sciatica is nerve pain caused due to irritation of the sciatic nerve. It is leg pain caused by a pinched sciatic nerve in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. The pain begins in the nerve roots that are located on either side of the lower spine, which runs down from the buttock to the foot. Sciatica can also cause feelings of numbness, tingling and weakness.

Pain can get worse by prolonged sitting, standing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, straining or twisting. Depending on the severity and the underlying cause of sciatica pain, different types of medications and treatment methods are undertaken.

  • Causes:

Any cause of irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve can produce the symptoms of sciatica. Most commonly, sciatica is a result of lumbar disc herniation directly pressing the sciatic nerve. Irritation of nerves as a result of an abnormal intervertebral disc is referred to as radiculopathy. Other causes of sciatica include irritation of the nerve from the adjacent bone, muscles, tumor, internal bleeding, infections in or around the lumbar spine and injury. Sciatica can also occur because of irritation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy.

  • Symptoms and Risk Factors:

Severe sciatica can make walking difficult, if not impossible. Sometimes, the symptoms of sciatica are aggravated by walking or bending at the waist and relieved by lying down. Sciatica causes a burning sensation, numbness, tingling, weakness or pain radiating from the lower back and upper buttock, down to the thigh and the back of the leg. Sciatica is often associated with lower back pain (lumbago), it can be present without lower back pain.

Risk factors for sciatica include lumbar disc, degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine, slipped disc, trauma or injury to the lumbar spine.

  • How is Sciatica Diagnosed:

Typical symptoms and certain examination guides health-care professionals to diagnose sciatica. It is diagnosed with a physical exam and medical history. Tests such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan and electromyogram are used to define the exact causes of sciatica.

  • Treatments:

The sciatic nerve is buried deep within the buttock and leg, therefore ice or heat on the surface of the body won’t ease the inner inflammation. However, applying ice or heat packs can act as counterirritants.

A specific controlled, progressive exercise program can be tailored around the underlying cause of the sciatica pain. The specific sciatica exercises serve two main purposes by reducing the sciatica pain in the near term and provides conditioning to help prevent future recurrences of the pain. Various sciatica exercises are usually better for relieving sciatica pain than bed rest. Without exercise and appropriate movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become deconditioned. The exercises recommended by your physiotherapist will depend on what’s causing the sciatica pain.

In some cases, patients may need to undergo a surgery after 4 to 6 weeks of incessant pain.

There are complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and yoga techniques that help ease sciatica pain. A physiotherapist treats the leg pain and other symptoms by prescribing specific exercises and at the same time teaches the patients how to do them. It’s important to work with a specialist who has experience working with people suffering from sciatica pain.