Sciatica refers to the radiating pain that affects the sciatic nerve. In case you didn’t know, it is the long nerve that runs from the low back through the hips, butt, and down each leg. It can hurt the front, outside, and back of either leg. Low back pain is one of its hallmark symptoms.
The pain caused by sciatic can be severe in some cases but often subsides within a few weeks without any medical procedure. In general, it affects only one side of the leg but may occasionally cause trouble on both sides. Some sciatica patients experience weakness and numbness in some areas of the affected leg or foot.
A study revealed that 90% of sciatica cases are due to spinal disc herniation. Rupture of the discs of the spine adds unwanted tension on the lumbar or sacral nerve roots. Some other conditions that result in sciatica are the following:
- Spinal stenosis
- A bone spur
- Pelvic tumors
- Piriformis syndrome
Who Is at Risk for Sciatica?
A lot of changes happen in the body as we age. The bones and discs of the spine deteriorate over time. This makes older people more prone to have bone spurs and herniated discs, the two common reasons for sciatica to arise.
People who are overweight or obese
When you put on some weight, you add stress to your spine. This causes spinal changes that bring about sciatica.
Those with risky jobs
Some jobs involve twisting the back, driving for long periods, or carrying heavy loads, which can inflame the sciatic nerve.
Diabetes can alter the way your body handles blood sugar. The disease can increase your risk of nerve damage, including the sciatic nerve.
People who sit for long hours at a time
If you are inactive, do not exercise, and always stuck sitting for prolonged periods, your lifestyle can take a toll on your health. It makes you more prone to sciatica.
Sciatica Signs and Symptoms
- Discomfort or achiness along the path of the sciatic nerve
- Radiating pain from the lower back to the buttocks and all the way down the back of the leg
- Pain that ranges between mild and achy to burning, sharp and debilitating
- Pain like an electric shock
- Symptoms that get worse upon sneezing or coughing or sitting for a long period
- Muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Pain on one side of the body (the affected part)
A simple method to know whether you have sciatica is by accomplishing the straight-leg-raising test. You can do it by lying on your back and lifting the afflicted leg. If you feel shooting pain below the knee shortly after, then you most likely have sciatica. Your doctor may also examine your muscle reflexes and strength by requesting you to walk on heels or toes or stand up from a squatting position. Medical imaging is often not necessary unless you have bladder or bowel problems or you experience numbness or weakness.
Sciatica Care: Methods to Get Rid of the Pain
People with sciatica need not to worry much as there is easy at-home care to relieve sciatica pain. If you thought of just resting your leg, know that resting for too long can aggravate your condition. A sedentary life can do more harm than good. Below are several things you can implement to reduce your sciatica pain.
When you begin to experience pain, apply a cold pack on the painful area for about 20 minutes. Do this for two to three days to reduce the swelling and feel better. Don’t forget to wrap the cold pack in a towel so it won’t feel too cold on the skin.
Once the inflammation subsides, proceed to apply heat to the painful spots. You can use a heating pad or hot packs. The heat would help restore the blood flow in the pathway of your sciatic nerve.
Maintain good posture while sitting
Be sure your seat has excellent lower back support, a swivel base, and armrests. Another thing to keep an eye on is the level of your knees and hips. They should be at the same level. You can roll up a towel and put on your back for support and to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
Gentle stretches that target your lower back can offer some relief and could loosen up the compressed nerve roots. Do not jerk, twist, or bounce when you do some stretching exercises. Also, hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.
Make your low body muscles stronger by performing regular exercises.
Use good body mechanics
If your work requires you to stand for extended hours, keep your one foot on a small box or stool every now and then. When you have to carry heavy loads, bend at the knees instead of your back. Stay away from twisting or lifting as much as possible.
Natural Sciatica Solution for Patients
Surprising as it may sound, sciatica pain can originate in the upper cervical spine. The reason this is possible is because the neck bones can misalign, leading to the twisting and shifting of the spine. This can lead to complications all over the spine, eventually pinching or irritating the nerves.
Upper cervical chiropractors employ a natural yet gentle method to realign the bones of the neck without force. They offer longer-lasting adjustments that provide more time to the body for healing. Upper cervical chiropractic restores the correct alignment of the bones and repairs the damages caused by the misalignment. We encourage you to consult with an upper cervical doctor near you if you are dealing with sciatica.