That nagging lower back pain has returned with a vengeance. This time, though, it’s a debilitating pain that goes all the way down the leg from your buttock. The unfortunate reality is that you could be saddled with sciatica, a condition that causes painful throbbing in the lower back and legs. What’s unique about sciatica, in particular, is that the symptoms come and go. One day you can feel great, while the next is ruined by extreme pain and discomfort. In this blog post, we will dive into causes, symptoms, and treatments of sciatica.
What Causes Sciatica?
Let’s preface this by reminding you that the sciatic nerve is the largest in the body. Keep in mind that the biggest reasons for sciatic nerve pain development are inflammation and herniated spinal discs. Should a spinal disc protrude out in a certain area, it can literally pinch the sciatic nerve, the main channel of communication between the legs and spine. Interestingly, not everyone with a herniated disc develops sciatica. It’s important to know that folks who are more susceptible to having spinal problems can trigger painful symptoms in various regions of the body. Studies have found that sciatica often occurs in the absence of direct nerve root compression.
Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain
About 1 to 2 percent of the general population deals with a herniated disc at some point in their adult life. When it comes to sciatic nerve pain, men over the age of 30 tend to be the most susceptible group. Remember, also, that sciatic can have a negative impact on athletes and those who are very active/sedentary. Here are some of the common symptoms of sciatica:
- Strong or shooting pains in the limbs and lower back – the pain can start in the back and work its way down the buttocks and thighs
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs
- Difficulty exercising or moving altogether
- Stiffness and inability to flex the feet
- Pain when sleeping
- Throbbing and/or inflammation around the lower back or thighs when sitting or standing for a period of time
So how long does this pain last? Frankly, everyone is different. For some, symptoms are gone within a few days. Others, meanwhile, cope with sciatic nerve pain for months at a time. If after six weeks you’ve failed to notice any sort of improvement, it’s a good idea to consult a local spine clinic.
Treatments for Sciatica
What’s the first you thing you do when experiencing a sciatic nerve pain flare-up? There’s a good chance that you grab the nearest over-the-counter pain medication and hope the discomfort goes away on its own. However, OTC options only provide temporary relief. Here are five natural treatments you can try for sciatica:
- Chiropractic adjustments – An experienced chiropractor works with patients in realigning the spinal discs and preventing protrusion into the canal. This essentially targets the primary source of pain. It’s been proven that those diagnosed with sciatica who receive a chiropractic adjustment enjoy less local pain, fewer number of days with pain, and additional sciatic relief.
- Stretching – This is helpful for a variety of back issues, not just sciatica. Keep in mind that lengthening the spine through stretching or yoga helps develop good posture while reducing stiffness, stiffness, inflammation, and pain in a major way. Quick tip: some of the most useful movements for preventing sciatic pain target the back, building strength, and relaxing stiff areas.
- Get moving – There are times with sciatica where all we want to do is lay down and rest. However, being sedentary for extended periods of time can only exacerbate back pain. Believe it or not, even just short walks and moving around the house can make a big difference in recovery. As difficult and uncomfortable as it may be at first, get moving to loosen up those inflamed areas.
- Use heating/ice packs – The combination of heat/ice works to alleviate inflammation, loosen up tight muscles, and increase circulation. Whether at home or the office, this regimen does a world of good for sciatica. Strive for about 10 to 15 minutes every few hours with each pack.
- Re-evaluate current health habits – Are you under high levels of stress? Do you smoke? Have you gained a fair amount of weight recently? These can all factor into one’s odds of developing sciatica. Why you may ask? Well each of these factors cause inflammation, which makes it more difficult to heal from injuries. So as you work to recover from sciatic nerve pain, focus on your entire body as well. Start eating healthier, exercise more, and incorporate some stress management techniques into your routine. You might be amazed at the difference a few simple lifestyle changes can make.
Get in Touch with Our Spine Clinic
At the International Spine Institute, we help patients overcome spinal stenosis, herniated discs, bulging discs, sciatica, and other back issues. Dr. Rodriguez is proud to offer the least invasive procedure options to patients. Not to mention, each treatment is patient-specific. Unlike other local offices, we don’t force a treatment on one patient just because it worked for another. This tailored approach enables patients to recover quickly and get back to their active, pain-free lifestyle.
If you’re sick of dealing with sciatica, give us a call today.