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Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain radiating from the lower spine through the hips and buttocks and down the back of one of the legs indicates sciatic nerve pain (sciatica).

Common Causes of Sciatica Include:

  • Herniated (slipped) disc which pinches or compresses the nerve

  • Bone spur (overgrowth of bone on the vertebrae)

  • Tumor

  • Diabetes

Symptoms of Sciatica include pain in the lower back, hip and leg.Sciatica normally affects only one side of the body, with pain symptoms ranging from mild to severe. While most instances of sciatic nerve pain resolve on their own, see a doctor if your symptoms persist for over a week. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Symptoms Of Sciatica

  • Pain and/or numbness radiating from the low back down the back of the thigh, calf, and foot

  • Mild ache to a sharp burning sensation or sudden jolt

  • Numbness and/or tingling of the lower extremities

  • Pain exacerbated by bending forward, coughing, and sneezing

  • In severe cases, trouble controlling the bladder/bowels or sudden numbness or weakness in the legs, requiring immediate medical attention

Additional Risk Factors Which May Be Causes Of Sciatica

  • History of herniated disk/bone spur

  • Prolonged sitting/sedentary lifestyle

  • Heavy lifting

  • Old age

  • Overweight

  • Diabetes

Sciatica Treatments

In most cases, sciatic nerve pain goes away without invasive treatments and permanent nerve damage is rare. Here are some ways to relieve sciatica pain and discomfort:

  • Avoid heavy moving, lifting, and bending over to pick things up

  • Apply an icepack on the painful area (15 minutes a few times a day) to reduce inflammation

  • Apply heat or take a hot bath to relax muscles which might be compressing the sciatic nerve

  • Practice exercises which stretch the back

  • Take over-the-counter pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications

  • Physical therapy for a slipped disc, including posture and flexibility increasing exercises and muscle-strengthening and relaxing exercises

  • In cases of severe pain, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, tri-cyclic antidepressants, or administer a steroid injection

  • Natural treatments include herbs, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture

To prevent a reoccurrence of sciatica, practice regular low-back stretching exercises and exercises which strengthen the core muscles. Investing in a good ergonomic chair is also recommended, as is taking regular breaks from sitting and learning the mechanics of good sitting posture. An ergonomic cushion placed in the small of your back will help maintain the natural curvatures of your spine and give your back extra support.