Tips to treat your sciatica
Sitting should not hurt, right? Well, that radiating pain that you feel shooting down your back, rear end and legs when you sit (or stand) is known as sciatica. And the symptoms tend to worsen in the sitting position. The condition, for many people, is merely an annoyance. For others, though, the diagnosis is debilitating.
Sciatica generally is not caused by a singular event, but develops over an extended period of time. The condition is almost always a result of an underlying condition such as spondylolisthesis or a slipped disc. Statistically, sciatica appears in middle-aged persons, with the prognosis peaking around age 50. The condition, however, is rarely seen in persons younger than 20 years old.
The most common cause of sciatica is a slipped or herniated disc in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and sciatica develops when it is impinged or constrained. A slipped or herniated disc may put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms to infringe on everyday life.
Symptoms develop when a condition aggravates the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lower back and runs down the buttocks and back of each leg. Those suffering from sciatica may experience constant pain on one side that travels down the buttock and leg. Individuals may feel a burning or tingling sensation, experience weakness in the affected leg or foot or a sharp pain that makes walking difficult. In severe cases, sciatica may cause bowel or bladder incontinence.
Generally, treatment options include a series of conservative treatments that exclude surgery. Physicians may also prescribe pain management medication such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants or narcotics. Typically, though, a physician will prescribe conservative treatments that can be done at home. Below are some examples of conservative treatment for sciatica:
- Exercises that increase core muscle strength and improve posture
- Alternating cold and hot therapy
- Stretches that help to alleviate leg and lower back pain
Surgery may be suggested as a last resort to relieve the underlying issue. For the most part, the treatment plan is contingent on the level of pain and severity of symptoms. If you think that you have sciatica, please contact your primary care physician to schedule an appointment and develop a treatment plan.