What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that stems from the lower back and radiates down the back of the leg occasional down as far as the toes.It is a fairly common condition and mainly affects those between the ages of 25 and 50.The pain experienced can range from being a very annoying and niggling pain, to severe and debilitating agony. Usually affecting only one side of the body at a time, it is often a recurring (intermittent) condition that seems to worsen with every episode.
Pain maybe accompanied by feelings of burning, tingling or even numbness in the legs, sometimes with pain in the lower back also. These symptoms all add to a decrease in mobility and a restriction of carrying-out everyday activities.The degree of symptoms depends on the amount of pressure exerted on the nerve, the sufferer’s pain threshold and whether it is a first episode or a recurring incident.
Causes Of SciaticaThe most common cause of sciatica is due to a herniated or protruding intervertebral disc; this causes the compression or irritation of the nerve roots around that area of herniation.A disc can herniated by demonstrating poor lifting techniques, awkward bending, or sometimes from a simple sneeze or twist that is done in the wrong way and ‘jerks’ the body.
Other causes can include spinal stenosis of the lumbar region, degenerative disc disease or general wear and tear of the structures of the lower back. These conditions cause the nearby nerves to become inflamed through irritation. When treated correctly, the inflammation should have subsided within three weeks. It is very rare for sciatica to be present permanently and also extremely unusual for there to be any long-term nerve damage. As the spinal cord has divided into nerve branches by the time it reaches the lower back, the chance of paralysis is very negligible.
Sciaitca is also common in the later stages of pregnancy when the enlarged uterus presses on the sciatic nerve. In this scenario, the pain is usually resolved after delivery of the baby.
Treatments For SciaticaTreatment for sciatica is usually achieved by determining the cause of the nerve irritation and resolving that condition. This will relieve the symptoms of the sciatica, and is much more productive than by simply reducing the inflammation alone.Once the underlying cause has been found and a plan of treatment formed for that, the symptoms can be addressed. As the main cause of pain is from irritation of the nerves, a suitable anti-inflammatory medication will be suitable. Stretching and exercise are recommended when the initial pain has begun to decrease. Movement helps to reduce inflammation, and also encourages blood circulation, meaning that oxygen and nutrients reach the affected area and aids the healing process.Very occasionally your GP might suggest the use of muscle relaxant drugs or steroids.
It is very rare for surgery to be indicated, and when needed it is to removed the part of the herniated disc that is causing the compression to the nerve.Some people benefit from the use of a chiropractor or massage therapist.