All You Need To Know About Sciatica

It is a common musculoskeletal disorder which affects men more, as compared to women. Though people in their 20s can suffer from sciatic nerve pain, usually adults in their 40s and 50s suffer from such type of pain which radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, splitting from the lower back through the hips, buttocks and down each leg.

There are certain studies which have found associations between occupational factors and sciatica. It occurs when a herniated disk or narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve which leads to inflammation. “The important thing here is to find out, what is causing the pressure on the nerve,” says Peter Ottone, a chiropractor in Brick, New Jersey.

Generally, the pain associated with sciatica is severe, but most of the cases can be resolved with simpler and non-operative treatments, within a few weeks. However, those who suffer from severe sciatica issues might need to undergo surgical procedures.

What are it’s Symptoms and Causes?

Uncomfortable feeling along the nerve pathway, especially from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf, is a common symptom. The amount of pain might differ ranging from mild ache to unbearable pain. As one coughs or sneezes, it might worsen and long hours of sitting can also intensify symptoms. Numbness and Muscle weakness in the affected foot or leg are also it’s indicators.

Diabetes, which disturbs the way your body uses blood sugar, escalates your risk of nerve damage. Obesity is another major cause of the problem.  Infection affecting the spine, injury and tumors within the spine, can also greatly lead to this medical condition.

About 50% to 80% of women have back pain during pregnancy. The production of hormones during pregnancy cause ligaments to loosen up and stretch, leading to back pain in women.

A profession which requires you to lift heavy weight, drive vehicles for a longer duration might be responsible for the same.

In fact, in several cases of Sciatica, there is no single clear cause involved. It might be a result of various factors. If the symptoms of sciatica do not last beyond few weeks, it is possibly acute sciatica, and medical attention may not be necessary. However, if pain persists, imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI may be required to help detect what is compressing the sciatic nerve and causing the symptoms.

How To Avoid Sciatica Pain?

You must pay attention to the core muscles such as the abdominal muscles and lower back, important to maintain correct posture. Regular exercise would help to do so. For comfort while you sit, you must select a seat with a good lower back support and armrests.

If you lift something that is heavy, allow your lower extremities do the essential work. Try to avoid lifting and twisting concurrently. Take help of another person if it seems too difficult to carry the load. Always, keep your back straight and only bend at the knees.

Physical Therapy To Treat This Problem

Physical therapy exercises which are an amalgamation of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning are crucial components of several sciatica problems.

Strengthening exercises - This type of exercise toughens the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons, making them stronger. Such exercises emphasizes not only on the lower back, but also the abdominal muscles, buttock and hip muscles.

Stretching exercises - The stretching exercises are meant to target the muscles which can cause pain, if tight and stubborn. Hamstring stretching is an important part of a sciatica exercise program. Another type of stretch which is often helpful is the Bird Dog move and Plank Bird Dog move.

Aerobic exercises - Performing aerobic activities helps in the release of endorphins, which are the natural body killers helpful in minimizing the pain.

Cardiovascular exercise - For example, walking, swimming, or pool therapy also helps to deal with the pain.  These must be included as a part of the daily regime.

Exercising on a regular basis, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, and utilization of hot and cold therapies are often remarkably successful at dealing with sciatica. To provide healing nutrients to the injured part responsible for the extreme pain, regular mobility is essential. Since, inactivity can enhance the pain.

There are various health professionals who specialize in providing suitable physical therapy and exercise programs and instruction. Getting in touch with them for guidance and help, if suffering from pain would be crucial. By engaging in frequent program involving gentle exercises, recovery from pain can be attained in a shorter time.

In some cases, apart from the exercises, the medical professional might recommend injection of a corticosteroid into the area around the involved nerve. This is particularly because the Corticosteroids help lessen the pain by reducing inflammation around the affected nerve area.

About the author: Dr Scott Gray is amongst the top-rated physical therapist in Fort Myers and is founder of Back In Motion Sport & Spine Physical Therapy, SW Florida’s leading physical therapy clinic for orthopedic, sport, and spine injuries

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