Sciatica Back Pain & Relief
Pain is Known as Sciatica
Any fitness professional will tell you that one of the most common lower back musculoskeletal disorder affecting 80% of people is known as Sciatica. Its caused by aggravation to the sciatic nerve, found in the lower back, travelling down the back of each leg.
When there is pressure or injuries on the sciatic nerve, the pain travels through the hip, buttock, down one leg and may get worse when you sit, sneeze or cough. Having numbness, weak, or tingly leg is not uncommon. The symptoms often appear suddenly and can last for days or weeks. The good news is that 90% of people recover without surgery.
More Commonly Found in Women
Many cases of back pain are the result of overextending or straining the muscles in the lower back. What sets sciatica injury apart is how the pain radiates down the leg to the foot. It often feels like a lingering leg cramp that lasting for days.
Sciatica pain is most often experienced between the ages of 30 and 50 and more commonly found in women. Pregnancy can put pressure on the sciatic nerve from the developing uterus. Other causes include degenerative arthritis of the spine and herniated disk.
1/50 people’s sciatica pain is caused by a herniated disk and at some point in life, 1/4 of them will show symptoms that last six weeks. Spinal stenosis is more common in adults over age 60 and is a natural wearing of the vertebrae which can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing may put pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve.
Piriformis syndrome, more commonly found in women, is a response to a muscle found deep inside the buttocks. Connecting the lower spine to the upper thighbone, it runs directly over the sciatic nerve. When this muscle goes into spasm, pressure can be on the sciatic nerve, displaying symptoms of sciatica.
Carrying a fat wallet in the your back pocket can trigger piriformis syndrome. Most commonly found in men, this puts chronic pressure on the piriformis muscle and will aggravate the sciatic nerve over time. It is strongly advised to keep your wallet in a jacket or front pocket.
Muscular inflammation, infection, or injury, such as a fracture can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms.
Best Way to Know If You Have Sciatica
The best way to know if you have sciatica, is to determine where your pain started and locate the cause so there can be course of treatment. A doctor will ask you to do various procedures including X-ray, MRI or CT scan, to source the location and cause.
In critical cases an injection of steroids into the spine area delivers instant relief. Surgery may be an option if you have a herniated disk, and it’s still causing severe sciatic pain after 4-6 weeks. A portion of the herniated disk is removed to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve. There is 90% relief from this type of procedure.
At home, steps include using heating pad may be especially helpful. For 20 minutes every two hours apply heat. Test out which provides more relief and try alternating. Pain reliever acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are options that can help too.
Remaining active can actually help reduce inflammation and pain. A fitness professional can gently guide you to stretch the hamstring and lower back. And, depending on the condition, they can teach you that certain exercises that may or may not be recommended.
By Andre Noel Potvin