Do you have a sharp pain in your lower back, hip, or leg? Sciatica pain is no walk in the park. It can force you out of the activities you enjoy and make everyday routines difficult. The symptoms can worsen over time, so obtain a quick diagnosis and start treatment now to ease your recovery.
Have you ever wondered if the pain, tingling, or numbness in your leg is sciatica pain? Sciatica is the result of injury or compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower spine. It is not a medical condition in and of itself, but a symptom of a medical problem. It occurs in both men and women, most commonly between 30 and 50 years of age.
The pain typically only affects one side of the body. Luckily, sciatica pain can usually be treated with home therapies and surgery is necessary only rarely necessary.
About the Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It runs from the lumbar spine down through the hips and buttocks, continuing down the back of each leg. The nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg. It also controls sensation in the back of the thigh, lower leg, and sole of the foot.
Since sciatica pain is caused by compression or injury of the nerve roots from the lumbar and lumbosacral spine, sciatica causes are all related to changes in the lower spine. Some of the sciatica pain causes can be avoided with lifestyle changes, while others are unavoidable. Take a look to see if you are at risk of developing sciatica.
Tight piriformis muscle
Occupations that involve prolonged sitting
Degenerative spinal disc disease
Most frequently, sciatica pain is caused by a bone spur or a herniated disk. However, it can be caused by something as simple as a mattress that is too hard or too soft or wearing high heels. Regardless of the cause, sciatica back pain should not be ignored. Always make an appointment with your doctor to pinpoint that cause of your pain.
Sciatica symptoms typically follow the nerve from the lower back down through the buttocks into the leg. Suffers have a wide description of sciatica pain symptoms. It can be a mild ache to a sharp, excruciating pain that makes it nearly impossible to walk.
The classic signs of sciatica pain are numbness, weakness, tingling, and shooting pain down the back to the buttock and leg. Frequently lying down or walking will relieve symptoms and sitting and standing will trigger them.
Certain triggers can exacerbate symptoms. The most common triggers are quick movements, side bending, or when you sit and stand up. If you suffer from spinal stenosis, bending backward or walking more than a short distance can cause pain. If you have a lumbar herniated disc, bending forward can trigger your symptoms.
Your doctor will take your health history and perform a physical exam. Typically, your doctor will obtain most of the information he or she needs from the description of your symptoms. It may be determined that you need further testing to find what is causing your sciatica pain.
A sciatica x-ray will look at the spinal bone structure. Your doctor will be able to see bone spurs or other malformations of your vertebrae.
A sciatica MRI will be able to provide images of your bones and soft tissues. Your doctor would be able to see a herniated disc with an MRI.
A CT of your spine will show your spinal canal. Your doctor may have contrast dye injected to better visualize your spinal canal and the spinal nerves.
Electromyography (EMG) is an electrical nerve test that will determine if you have spinal nerve compression caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Sciatica pain treatment is focused on relieving the causes and avoiding long-term injury. Many sciatica treatment plans can be completed in the comfort of your own home. When you are wondering how to treat sciatica, you should start by discussing treatment options with your doctor. He or she will help guide you to the best treatment for sciatica.
Sciatica treatment at home is easy and inexpensive! We recommend starting with a hot and cold wrap. Begin by using the cold pack for 20 minutes several times a day where you are experiencing pain. Transition to heat after two to three days. The warmth will increase the blood flow to the area.
These sciatica stretches and exercises are focused on releasing tension and reducing pain. If you are wondering what to do for sciatica, start with a simple stretching routine from home. It might be what helps sciatica pain for you!
Lower Back Sciatica Stretch
Step 1: Lie down with a foam roller under your lower back.
Step 2: Place your knees up with feet on the ground.
Step 3: Allow the foam roller to stretch your lower back for up to five minutes.
Deep Glute Stretch
Step 1: Lay down on the ground.
Step 2: Cross your right foot over onto your left knee.
Step 3: Grab behind your left knee and pull your knee to your chest.
Step 4: Hold for 30 seconds.
Step 5: Complete the same stretch on the other leg.
Yoga Pose for Sciatica
Step 1: Lie face down on the ground.
Step 2: Come onto your elbows and hands.
Step 3: Lift your head, chest, and stomach off of the ground.
Step 4: Hold for five breaths.
Step 5: Come down on exhalation.
For targeted sciatica relief, try a groin wrap, which provides stability to the back and hips. ( See Product on Amazon)
One of the many helpful sciatica remedies is a groin wrap. It will provide necessary hip and thigh compression to reduce your sciatica symptoms. It also insulates heat which will help increase blood flow and speed up healing. The adjustable support on your hip and thigh can alleviate pain.
Gel Seat Cushion
For home, office, or the car, a gel seat cushion can be the perfect solution for sciatica pain. ( See Product on Amazon)
Most often people complain about sciatica leg pain when they are sitting. If that sounds like you then a gel seat cushion is something you need. The added padding will reduce pressure on your coccyx and spine helping to reduce sciatica symptoms. We recommend using it for long car rides when your sciatica can really become a problem!
A quality back brace provides superior support and stability, to the regions most affected by sciatica pain. ( See Product on Amazon)
One of the most common causes of sciatica pain is a slipped or herniated disc. A back brace will provide targeted back support while your body heals. Since your body size can change with swelling, an adjustable back brace will allow you to customize the amount of pressure and support that works best for you. Here is a comprehensive list of the best back braces for sciatica.
If you are looking for medicine for sciatica pain, start with over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications will help reduce inflammation and pain triggered by your irritated sciatic nerve. Your doctor may choose to use a steroid injection to bring down the inflammation. Steroid injections do not cure the sciatica pain but do provide excellent temporary relief.
Most people will have successful sciatica relief without surgery. Sciatica surgery is reserved for those people who are experiencing loss of bowel or bladder control or for those who do not have symptom improvement with other therapies. During sciatica surgery, your surgeon may remove a bone spur or repair a herniated disc.
Recovering from Sciatica
There is no one best sciatica cure. Treatment plans will differ for each individual. As always, talk to your doctor before you start any treatment or if you suffer from chronic sciatica or severe sciatica pain. Most people will have symptom relief within six to twelve weeks. A combination of multiple treatments will yield the best results.
Staying Active with Sciatica Pain
You do not need to suffer from pain in your lower back, hips, and legs caused by the sciatic nerve. Finding the root cause of your pain, whether it is a tight muscle, herniated disc, or bone spur will get you started on the right path to effective treatment. While you are at home, we have listed many techniques and braces to help reduce the pain and get you back to all the activities you love!
Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.
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