Sciatica nerve pain is a condition that affects your sciatic nerve – something that begins at top of your spinal cord, and runs all the way down through your buttocks and hips to branch off into each leg. This particular nerve is the longest one in the body. It has an impact on your ability to feel and control your legs, and when it’s irritated, you might experience a range of problems, including pain and discomfort.
When it comes to understanding sciatica signs, symptoms and treatments, it’s worth noting that sciatica is more of a response to a problem, than an actual condition itself. The condition is caused by a number of problems that involve your spine and impact the nerves along the back, it can also be caused by an injury that affects your spine.
Some of the common causes of sciatica are:
- Herniated disks: Herniated disks happen when the layer of cartilage between your spinal vertebrae starts to rip. The substance inside compresses the sciatic nerve, which leads to numbness and pain in your lower limbs.
- Spinal stenosis: Otherwise known as lumbar spinal stenosis, this condition is characterized by an unusual narrowing in your lower spinal canal, which can put pressure on your spinal cord.
- Spondylolisthesis: one of the most common conditions associated with degenerative disk disorder. When one bone, or vertebra moves over the other, the bone can pinch the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is most likely to happen in people between the ages of thirty and fifty, but it can happen in people of any age depending on the circumstances involved. This is particularly true in the case of Piriformis syndrome, a rare neuromuscular condition that causes your muscles to tighten and contract, resultiing in sciatica.
Sciatica Nerve Pain Signs, Symptoms and Treatments:
When you’re coming to terms with sciatica signs, symptoms and treatments, it’s important to know how you can distinguish sciatica from other types of back pain. This sensation can manifest itself as either minor, or severe pain across the legs, back, and buttocks. You might also experience numbness or weaknesses in those places too.
Sciatica is a very distinctive problem. If you notice a pain that moves from your lower back throughout your lower limbs and your buttocks, there’s a good chance you have sciatica. Because this condition is a result of damage to your sciatic nerve, you might also notice either signs of nerve damage, including:
- – Pain that gradually gets worse when you move
- – Weakness or numbness in your lower extremities
- – Pins and needles in your lower extremities
- – Incontinence or an inability to fully control your bowels or bladder
As mentioned above, almost anyone can suffer from sciatica, but there are certain factors that increase your risks more than others. For instance, as your body goes through the natural process of aging, it’s likely that various parts, including the spine will begin to wear down and suffer from pain. Certain careers can also place additional strain on your back – particularly when they involve lifting heavy objects, sitting for extended periods, and engaging in twisting movements.
Smoking and having diabetes are two factors that can also increase your risk of suffering from nerve damage, or breakage in the outer layers of the spinal cord.
The Treatment in Sciatica Signs, Symptoms:
Generally, when it comes to understanding sciatica signs, symptoms and treatments one of the first things you’ll want to know is how to manage your condition. When you’re first diagnosed, your doctor or healthcare provider should give you some tips on how to manage your pain. You’ll need to continue your daily activities wherever possible, as lying in bed can make the condition worse.
You can also consider hot and cold therapy. Ice packs can help to reduce swelling and pain in the areas that might be affected by the sciatica symptoms. On the other hand, hot packs and heating pads can help to improve your overall sense of comfort by relaxing the muscles in your back, legs, and buttocks. Most experts recommend starting with cold therapy and gradually switching to heat to manage your symptoms.
You might also find that gently stretching out your lower back is a good way to tackle the pain. However, you’ll need to learn how to stretch properly to avoid any additional discomfort or injury. You could speak to a physical therapist for help with this, or see a yoga instructor. The same is true when it comes to physical exercise. Regular activity is good for people searching for information on the sciatica signs, symptoms and treatments but you’ll need to be cautious to stay away from anything that worsens your condition. Ideally, you’ll want to stick to low impact activities like stationary cycling and swimming.
Medication and Surgery for Sciatica:
Although there are many lifestyle changes that can help with sciatica, if you want to know everything there is to know about sciatica signs, symptoms and treatments, you’ll also need to think about options like doctor-prescribed measures and over-the-counter medications. In terms of over-the-counter options, ibuprofen and aspirin can help with swelling and inflammation. However, aspirin can sometimes cause complications like ulcers and stomach bleeding when used excessively.
Your doctor might help by prescribing narcotic pain relief options, antidepressants and muscle relaxers to help with your sciatica too. Interestingly, antidepressants can be very useful for increasing endorphin production and helping you to cope with pain. Additionally, in severe circumstances, you might be given a corticosteroid injection to help deal with the pain. These injections are only given in rare circumstances, and they are designed to be used on a short-term basis only.
Finally, if your condition is bad enough, then your doctor might recommend surgery to help you deal with periods of severe pain, or give you back some independence when you might have lost control of your bladder and bowel, or when you’ve developed problems with certain lower muscle groups. One of the most common types of surgery is a discectomy, which is why the part of the disk pressing against your nerve is removed completely. Another option is when microdiscectomy is done through a tiny cut using special tools.