What is Sciatica Pain?
By definition, sciatica is a common type of pain affecting a person’s lower back, hip and down to the legs. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, which starts from the lumbar spine down through the buttocks and the legs. Pain happens when irritation and inflammation occurs in these nerves. As you read this article you will see ways to get sciatica relief treatment from home.
Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is more of a symptom than a medical condition. Back pain is usually interchanged with having sciatica. The only difference is that sciatica pain reaches up to the lower limbs. The pain is described as mild and irritating and happens at irregular intervals. On the other hand, the pain can also be severe and paralyzing and can last for several weeks depending on how irritated or damaged the nerve is.
The most common sign of sciatica is pain felt on one side, on the buttocks, and legs. Other symptoms of sciatic pain are:
- Numbness in the leg
- Pins and needles sensation in the feet
- Shooting pain from anywhere along the sciatic nerve
- A weak feeling from the affected buttock and leg
- Burning pain that makes it difficult to walk, stand up, or even sit still.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by any irritation, compression or inflammation of the sciatic nerve or nerve roots that also affect the feet and toes. Sciatica relief treatment is dependent on the medical diagnosis of sciatica.
Typical causes of sciatica include:
- Disc Herniation – The most common cause of sciatica. The ‘slipped disc’ or ‘bulging disc’ in the lumbar spine compresses the sciatic nerve or nerve root, therefore causing the pain.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – It is characterized by the narrowing of the passage of the spinal column in the lower back.
- Spondylolisthesis – A condition wherein a vertebra slips out of position and pinches the sciatic nerve.
- Osteoarthritis of the Spine – When bits of the cartilage in the spine break off, irritation and inflammation to the spine may take place, resulting to nerve pressure.
- Tumors – Whether it is a benign or malignant one, it may cause pressure to the sciatic nerve.
- Injury or infection within the spine – This causes irritation on the nerve that may result to a tingling sensation or numbness that radiates to the lower limbs.
- Cauda Equina Syndrome – A rare, serious condition affecting the nerve bundles at the end of the spinal cord that, when left untreated, may cause permanent nerve damage and paralysis.
- Pregnancy or any other muscle strain that puts pressure to the lower back.
Different Sciatica Relief Treatments
The effectiveness of treatment varies from one patient to another. Some may work, while others may not. However, before trying any course of treatment, it is important to consult a health professional.
Regardless of the cause of sciatic, you can still expect to find ways to treat it. There are some non-invasive and cheap treatments such as bed rest, massage, and physical therapy that may relieve the pain. If it does not work, there’s always an option for an injection or surgery.
NON-INVASIVE SCIATICA RELIEF TREATMENT
- Have a Massage.
Massage therapy or the ‘trigger-point’ therapy is best done by a professional massage therapist. It focuses on relieving pain on the inflamed areas or the trigger-points by applying pressure to the piriformis muscle.
- Hot or Cold Compress
This is convenient since you can use it almost anywhere, as long as there’s an ice pack or a heating pad readily available. The warmth and cold effect can both relieve pain. Remember to apply it only on the affected area for approximately 20 minutes every two hours.
- Physical Therapy and Exercise
Exercises for sciatica pain focus on three main areas; strengthening, aerobic conditioning and stretching. Physical therapists help patients engage in exercise regimen that can help them recover from sciatica pain and prevent future episodes from happening.
Stretching can help relieve muscle strain and restore movement flexibility. Aerobic conditioning exercises like walking or swimming improve circulation that helps ease the pain from strained muscles. Strengthening the abdominal muscles, lower back, buttocks, and hip muscles is important because they support the spine, keeping it aligned.
Click “Sciatic Nerve Exercises” for more information.
- Take Prescription Drugs.
Doctors sometimes prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, narcotics, or anti-seizure medications to patients to help them alleviate the pain. Patients may also take over-the-counter NSAID drugs such Ibuprofen, but medical consultation is a must.
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- Lie Back and Rest.
Bed rest is the easiest and cheapest treatment. This is a good option for the first few days when a person experiences acute or mild sciatica.
- Be Ambulant.
Be active but not too much. If a person sits or stands up for a very long time, it can increase pain because it causes strain on the pinched nerves. Try walking around slowly to keep the blood flowing from the lower back to the feet. No sudden movements and maintain a good body posture.
- Chiropractic Therapy
If resting, physical therapy, or medication does not work in alleviating the feeling of pain, then chiropractic therapy may be a good option. This sciatica relief treatment is an alternative therapy that involves treating any issues in your musculoskeletal system. It also emphasizes on the manipulation of the spine.
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It differs from chiropractic care by using fine needles inserted on certain acupuncture points. These points are along a channel said to have the ‘chi’ or body energy which, when blocked, causes pain. Therefore, if the block is removed from these points, ‘chi flow’ balance will be restored and pain is relieved.
Click “The Truth About Acupuncture” for more information.
INVASIVE TREATMENTS SCIATICA RELIEF TREATMENT
- Epidural Steroid Injection
When a doctor and patient tried to relieve the sciatica pain using non-invasive or alternative therapies but without any noticeable results, epidural steroid injection can be an option. A corticosteroid medication will be injected in the area where the nerve pain is most felt. This will help in suppressing the inflammation around the nerve.
Click “Spinal Injections and Drugs for Sciatica” for more information.
Surgery can be costly especially if a patient does not have medical insurance to cover the bill. It can also be scary for some because of complications that may arise during the procedure. However, having immediate surgery is the best option in certain cases like when a patient loses bowel and bladder function. This procedure is also done when the pain becomes more severe, more frequent, and causes weakness in the affected part.
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