Did you know that the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body? It runs from your lower back, through your glutes, and down the back of each leg. No wonder it causes so many long lingering problems. This long nerve controls many of the muscles and sensations in your legs. Sciatica refers to the pain you feel along this nerve. It can be described as shooting pain, tingling, burning, numbness, or weakness that travels from your lower back down the back of your leg. If you have had issues with your sciatic nerve you will know what I am talking about.
Sciatica pain isn't a disorder, but rather a symptom of a larger problem, usually a bulging or herniated vertebral disk. This is the most common cause of sciatica nerve pain, but other spinal issues such as a tumor (yikes!) or injury could also be the cause.
A condition called Piriformis syndrome, can also cause sciatica. This is when the piriformis muscle tightens spasms, putting pressure on the nerve creating pain. Active women like runners and serious walkers, and people who sit for long periods of time are especially likely to develop this condition.
How can you treat sciatica? To find out
- Cold packs can help alleviate some of the pain in the first 2 hours by relieving inflammation.
- After experiencing symptoms for 48 hours, applying heat packs to the painful areas is recommended. If you still feel discomfort, alternate between cold and hot packs.
- Gentle stretching for your lower back may also help relieve nerve pressure.
- If you have moderate pain, over the counter meds may help.
- If your pain is more severe, prescriptions drugs may relieve pain more effectively.
- Physical therapy or Pilates exercises to correct your posture and strengthen your back and core muscles can also help in your recovery.
- Massage therapy may also help relieve tightness in muscles, which can cause sciatica pain.
- Going to a chiropractor may also help to improve your posture and spinal alignment.
- Regular exercise is still important to help combat chronic discomfort. It release endorphins, which are chemicals that prevent pain signals from reaching your brain.
- Depending on your condition, your doctor may also use corticosteroid injections to help relieve inflammation.
- If your sciatica is very severe, and causes extreme weakness in the lower legs, and loss of bowel control, surgery may be recommended to remove part of the herniated disk.
Fit's Tips: Pregnancy can also bring about sciatica pain. While the symptoms often disappear on their own, it can take up to 6 weeks or more. You can try the above remedies, especially physical therapy and massage, but you should definitely talk to your doctor about what may be causing your sciatica so you can get the necessary treatment.
If you have ever experienced sciatica, how did you treat it? Let me know in the comments section below.