What Is Sciatica ?
The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness that travels from the low back through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg.
The vast majority of people who experience sciatica get better with time (usually a few weeks or months) and find pain relief with non-surgical sciatica treatment. For others, however, sciatica can be severe and debilitating.
Sciatica is a painful condition that affects the lower back and the leg. When the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, sciatica leads to pain that is typically felt on just one side of the body. Besides discomfort, sciatica is known to cause numbness in the affected regions of the body, as well as trouble with controlling the leg.
Sciatica is a common condition that involves pain radiating through the lower back and all the way down to the feet. This condition may be associated with a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, tumors, trauma or infection. It can often be prevented by maintaining proper posture and exercising regularly.
Most cases of sciatica go away on their own within a few weeks. Patients can relieve pain during this time by applying ice, stretching the area and taking over-the-counter pain medication. More severe cases of sciatica may require steroid injections or surgery to relieve nerve pressure.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. When irritated by a herniated disk or other irritant, it will generally be felt in the lower back, buttocks, back of the thigh, calf or foot.
There Are Some Typical Causes Of Sciatica
Spondylolisthesis is usually found at birth, early childhood or acquired from physical trauma such as weightlifting. It is a disorder that most often affects the lumbar spine. Spondylolisthesis is characterized by one vertebra slipping forward over an adjacent vertebra. Often sciatic leg pain is caused when a nerve root compresses due to the vertebra being displaced and slipping.
Due to the lack of MRI or x-ray findings, it may be difficult to diagnose and treat piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle connects to the thighbone, assists in hip rotation and is located in the lower part of the spine. When muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thereby compressing the sciatic nerve, Piriformis syndrome develops. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. Piriformis syndrome is named for the piriformis muscle and the pain caused when the muscle irritates the sciatic nerve.
Lumbar Bulging or Herniated Disc
When the nucleus breaks through the annulus a herniated disc occurs. It is called a ‘non-contained’ disc disorder. A bulging disc is also known as a contained disc disorder. This means the nucleus pulposus (gel-like center) remains ‘contained’ within the annulus fibrosus (tire-like outer wall) of the disc. Because a herniated disc is a ‘non-contained’ disc disorder, the consequences of a herniated disc are worse. Whether a disc or herniates or bulges, disc material can press against an adjacent nerve root and compress delicate nerve tissue and cause sciatica. Irritation and nerve compression cause pain and inflammation often leading to extremity tingling, muscle weakness and numbness. The disc material itself also contains an acidic, chemical irritant (hyaluronic acid) that causes nerve inflammation. The herniated nucleus causes direct compression of the nerve root against the interior of the bony spinal canal
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The condition of spinal stenosis results in the spinal canal narrowing. The narrowing causes pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Common in patients over the age of 50 and with causes that are not clear, spinal stenosis has two different types frequently described. A common complaint of spinal stenosis patients is leg pain which gets worse with walking. Another complaint is back pain. Sitting and bending can sometimes alleviate these pains.
For some people, sciatica pain can be severe and debilitating. For others, the sciatica symptoms might be infrequent and irritating, but have the potential to get worse. Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the lower body, and the pain often radiates from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain and other sciatica symptoms may also radiate, prompting foot pain or pain in the toes.
For most people, the good news is that sciatica usually will get better on its own, and the healing process usually only takes a few days or weeks. Overall, the vast majority of episodes of sciatica pain heal within a six to twelve week time span. However, occasional flare-ups of sciatic nerve pain may be an indication of a condition that should be managed so that it does not get worse over time.
For most, readily available pain management techniques and regular exercise will go a long way to remedying the situation.
For others, when the pain is severe or does not get better on its own, a more structured pain management program (including specific physical therapy and exercise), and possibly surgery, may offer the best approach to finding pain relief and preventing or minimizing future flare-ups of sciatica.
First of all sciatica pain is usually recognized when one begins to experience pain in the lower back and gluteal region. As time progresses and the pain becomes worse then you will notice that the pain will begin to radiate down the legs and calves and other parts of your body. Many people who suffer from this uncomfortable pain usually find their way to the internet in hopes of finding some sciatica treatment.
Non-Surgical Sciatica Treatment
During an episode of sciatica, there are a number of non-surgical treatment options available to help alleviate the sciatic pain and discomfort. Heat/ice For acute sciatica pain, heat and/or ice packs are most readily available and can help alleviate the leg pain, especially in the initial phase. Usually ice or heat is applied for approximately 20 minutes, and repeated every two hours. Most people use ice first, but some people find more relief with heat. The two may be alternated to help with sciatica pain relief.
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