What exactly is sciatica?
Sciatica is nerve pain from the gluteal region and is caused by an injury or inflammation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the body’s longest and thickest (nearly a finger’s width) nerve. It’s made up of five nerve roots: two from the lower back, known as the lumbar spine, and three from the sacrum, the last segment of the spine. The sciatic nerve is formed when these five nerve roots come together. The nerve then runs across your hips, buttocks, and down one leg, finishing just below the knee on either side of your body. Just below the knee, the sciatic nerve splits into many nerves that run down your leg and into your foot and toes.
While actual sciatic nerve damage is uncommon, the word “sciatica” is sometimes used to describe pain that comes from the lower back that runs down the leg. The cause of this pain is a nerve injury, such as swelling, inflammation, pinching, or compression of a nerve in your lower back.
If you have “sciatica,” you can feel discomfort anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve, which stretches from your lower back to your hips, buttocks, and down your legs. Muscle fatigue in your leg and foot, numbness in your leg, and a tingling pins-and-needles feeling in your leg, foot, and toes are all potential side effects.
What is the prevalence of sciatica?
Sciatica is an exceedingly common ailment. Sciatica affects approximately 40% of people in the United States at some stage in their lives. Back pain is the third most common cause for people to seek medical attention.
What are the causes that put you at risk for sciatica?
You’re more likely to get sciatica if you:
– Have you had a prior fracture or injury to your lower back or spine? Sciatica is more likely if you’ve had a lower back or spine injury.
– Live a long life: When you get older, the bone tissue and discs in your spine naturally wear down. The shifts in discs and ligaments that occur as you age can put your nerves at risk of being damaged or pinched.
– If you’re obese, the spine acts like a vertical crane. The counterweights are the muscles. Your backbone has to lift the weight you bear in the front of your body. With more weight, the back muscles (counterweights) have to work harder. This can result in back strains, pains, and other problems.
– Weak core: The “core” is made up of your back and abdomen muscles. Your lower back would be better supported if your core muscles are stronger.
– Have an active, physical job: Jobs that include heavy lifting or prolonged sitting can increase your risk of low back issues.
– Failure to maintain proper body posture: Even though you are physically fit and active, you may develop sciatica if you have muscular imbalance and poor posture due to your job, activities, or over developed muscles.
– Have diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of nerve damage, which increases the risk of sciatica.
– Have osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis caused by wear and tear on your spinal joints will put your nerves in jeopardy.
– Exercise to keep your muscles working, flexible, and toned: Sitting for long periods without exercising and keeping your muscles moving, supple, and toned will increase your risk of sciatica.
-Smoke: Tobacco’s nicotine can damage spinal tissue, weaken bones, and hasten the deterioration of vertebral discs.
What causes sciatica in the first place?
Sciatica can be caused by a variety of medical issues, including:
– Pressure on a nerve root caused by a herniated or bulging disc. This most often causes sciatica. A bulging disc affects between 1% to 5% of all people in the United States at some stage in their lives. The cushioning pads between each vertebra of the spine are known as discs. The gel-like center of a disc will bulge and later herniate through its outer wall due to weakness caused by pressure from vertebrae. If a herniated disc develops in the lower back, it may irritate the sciatic nerve.
– The normal wear and tear of the discs between the spine’s vertebrae is known as degenerative disc disease. As the discs wear down, their height decreases, and the nerve passageways become narrower (spinal stenosis). As the sciatic nerve roots leave the spine, spinal stenosis can create pressure or pinch the nerves.
– The irregular narrowing of the spinal canal is known as spinal stenosis. The space available for the spinal cord and nerves is diminished as a result of this narrowing.
– Spondylolisthesis is the forward slippage of one vertebra with the one above it, narrowing the space from which the nerve exits. The extended spinal bone may pinch the sciatic nerve.
– Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that affects the joints. In aging spines, bone spurs (jagged edges of bone) may develop and compress the nerves of the low back.
– Trauma to the lumbar spine or the sciatic nerve
– Sciatic nerve compression caused by tumors in the lumbar spinal canal.
– Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle deep in the buttocks, tightens or spasms. This can irritate and press on the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is a rare neuromuscular condition.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of sciatica?
Sciatica causes the following symptoms:
– Pain in the lower back, buttocks, and down the leg, ranging from mild to extreme.
– Weakness or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, leg, or feet
– Pain that gets worse with movement; inability to move.
– A sensation of pins and needles in your legs, toes, or feet.
What is the treatment for sciatica?
Sciatic pain is usually an indication of a much larger problem that needs to be properly evaluated to avoid the problem getting worse in the future. Chiropractic adjustments of the low back and pelvis have been shown to be extremely effective in treating sciatic pain. When combined with specific rehab exercises for low back and spinal decompression, many patients can achieve significant long-term relief from sciatic pain. Until you can be properly evaluated, there are some home care options available.
Treatments for self-care include:
Applying ice and hot packs: To minimize pain and swelling, begin with ice packs. To treat the affected region:
- Wrap ice packs in a towel.
- Apply many times a day for 20 minutes each time.
- In the first few days, switch to a hot pack or a heating pad.
- Apply for a total of 20 minutes per time. If you’re still in pain, try switching between hot and cold packs to see which one works better for you.
Gentle stretching: Learn correct stretches from an instructor who has dealt with low back pain before. Work your way up to other general-strengthening, core-muscle-strengthening, and cardiovascular exercises.
Is it possible to avoid sciatica?
Some causes of sciatica, such as degenerative disc disease, sciatica caused by pregnancy, or falls, are unavoidable. Although it may not be possible to avoid all cases of sciatica, you may protect your back and reduce the risk by following the steps below:
– Keep good posture while sitting, standing, lifting objects, and sleeping: Maintaining a good posture while sitting, standing, lifting objects, and sleeping relieves pressure on your lower back. Pain may be an early indicator that you’re out of alignment. Adjust your stance if you start to feel stiff or sore.
– Avoid smoking: Nicotine decreases blood flow to the bones. It weakens the spine and the vertebral discs, placing more stress on them and causing back and spine problems.
– Adhere to a healthy weight: Overweight and a lousy diet are linked to inflammation and discomfort all over the body. Consider the Mediterranean diet if you want to lose weight or improve your eating habits. The less pressure you put on your back, the closer you get to your ideal body weight.
– Exercise regularly: This involves stretches to maintain flexibility and strengthening exercises for supportive muscles for your joints. Core muscle strengthening provides stabilization for the low back. These muscles help to hold the spine in place.
– Select physical activities that are least likely to cause back pain: Swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi are also low-impact practices to consider.
– Reduce the risk of falling by wearing comfortable shoes and keeping stairwells and walkways clear of clutter. Make sure the rooms are well-lit and that bathrooms and stairwells have grab bars and rails.
While sciatic pain may go away with some home self-care, it may be an indicator of a much larger problem that needs to be properly evaluated. Bulging or herniated discs will only get worse without the proper treatment. Osteoarthritis will continue to degenerate the joints and may cause more severe pain without treatment. A pinched nerve could have long-term implications if it is not properly identified and treated. It is far better to identify these problems earlier before they become too advanced or require surgery. If you would like to be evaluated, Sciatic pain may be an indicator of a much larger problem that needs to be properly evaluated you should seek Sciatica Treatment Lakewood Ranch. If necessary, your healthcare provider will confirm the source of your discomfort, recommend alternative therapies, or refer you to the appropriate spine health specialists.