The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. Sciatica refers to a condition characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back region that travels through the gluteal area and down the back of the thigh. If left untreated, sciatica can become an extremely painful and debilitating condition. However, with the right treatments, pain can be managed and even eliminated without the use of surgical procedures.
Symptoms of Sciatica
- An increase of pain in the glutes and the back of the thigh when sitting for extended periods of time
- A burning or tingling sensation along the length of the leg
- Weakness, numbness, or marked difficulty moving one leg or foot
- Sharp or constant pain in the gluteal region or the back of the leg
- Difficulty standing or walking due to pain in the legs and glutes
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica in itself is not actually a medical diagnosis. Rather, it is the result of an underlying condition. Therefore, in order to find pain relief, the root cause must first be dealt with. Causes may include a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or wear and tear on the spine due to age, injuries, or other factors. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, inflamed, or otherwise irritated.
Pain Relief for Sciatica
Sciatica pain relief for many people, sciatica is a condition that will heal on its own with no interventions. This typically occurs within two to three months. However, if needed, there are specific pain management options to reduce and eliminate sciatica.
Surgical treatments, necessary in severe cases, include procedures such as a microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy. These procedures involve removing the part of the disc that is causes irritation to the sciatic nerve.
Non-surgical treatments, which are much more common, include both medical and non-medical treatments. Acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, heat and cold therapy, yoga, stretching, physical therapy, over-the-counter medicines, epidural steroid injections, or specific exercises may all be part of a sciatic pain relief regimen.
While a brief period of rest may be necessary during a flare up of sciatica, movement and activity are the best source of healing. Gentle stretching and core-targeted exercises greatly help to reduce stress, tension, and pressure on the areas surrounding the sciatic nerve. Deep breathing techniques, such as those practiced in yoga can help to lessen inflammation by relaxing tight muscles. Daily stretching will help muscles to become more flexible and supple. Stretches should focus on the piriformis muscle, hamstrings, pelvic muscles and lumbar spine. Resistance training is also valuable for increasing muscular strength. Cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow and oxygen intake, causing muscles to become stronger as well. Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking and swimming, are excellent means of alleviating pain. These types of exercises promote the exchange of nutrient-rich fluids, which aid in healing. Exercise also releases endorphins, natural pain killers produced by the body.
Healthy lifestyle practices, such as those mentioned above, can bring about great pain relief and help to prevent future episodes of sciatica.
Filed under: Sciatica Pain Relief