Sciatica is one of the common conditions, with an occurrence rate well over 40 %, yet, it remains largely misunderstood. One of the main reasons most people misconstrue the condition is that it can last anywhere from a few hours to months. Nonetheless, experts advise you to seek professional help if you suspect you’re experiencing sciatica pain.
Sciatica pain can be felt anywhere from the lower back to the foot. While the sciatica nerve is located in the hip region, it is connected by various nerves extending from the lower back and extends to the toes.
Sciatica pain can manifest in various ways, with most patients comparing the pain to frequent jolting pains. Others describe sciatica pain as a stabbing or burning sensation.
Types of Sciatica
There are several types of sciatica. The type of sciatica is dependent on the number of legs affected and how long the symptoms last. Based on these two factors, there are four types of sciatica.
- Chronic sciatica refers to any sciatic nerve pain lasting more than eight weeks and is usually unresponsive to any self-management therapy.
- Alternating sciatica: This is a rare kind of sciatic nerve pain and alternates between both legs. It carries the risk of degenerative complications happening in the sacroiliac joint.
- Acute sciatica: It is sciatic nerve pain that has occurred recently and probably in the onset stage 4-8 weeks. It typically does not require medical attention as it responds to self-management therapies.
- Bilateral sciatica: This kind of sciatica affects both legs simultaneously and is also a rare kind. It is often a result of degeneration in the vertebrae or acute conditions like the cauda equina syndrome.
What causes sciatica pain?
Sciatica pain occurs when a dense bone pressures the sciatic nerve on your vertebrae (also known as a bone spur.) The condition can also appear when a herniated disc pinches the nerve in the spine.
The leading causes of sciatica are;
Lumbar herniated disk
This condition is responsible for 90 % of sciatica cases. A herniated disc compresses one or several spinal nerve roots that are part of the sciatic nerve. It can cause sciatica through direct compression or chemical inflammation.
When tissues in the lumbar spine like facet joints, the vertebral bone, and intervertebral discs degenerate, they can cause inflammation and abnormal growths. This swelling, in turn, compresses and irritates the sciatic nerve.
Lumbar spinal stenosis
This is a condition that results in the spinal canal narrowing. It is a common condition among people above 60 years of age and a leading cause of sciatica among the elderly.
These conditions could develop gradually or spontaneously.
In some rare cases, sciatica pain can start when the nerve is compressed by tumors or damaged by other illnesses and conditions such as diabetes.
The most common risk factors that contribute to sciatica pain include;
- Age – As you age, the spine changes and may be more prone to bone spurs and herniated discs. These changes may result in sciatica pain and should be immediately checked by a chiropractor.
- Obesity – Excess body weight increases the stress on your spine, which can then trigger sciatica pain.
- Diabetes – Research shows patients suffering from diabetes stand a greater chance of suffering from sciatica pain.
- Muscle spasms – Usually in the buttocks and back areas
- Spondylolisthesis – This is a condition where a vertebra slips over another one
- Occupation – If you spend most of your time seated or lifting heavy objects, it could easily lead to sciatica pain.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Often sciatica alternates its effects from one leg to the other. The areas most affected by the symptoms are the lower back to the buttock area and then the thighs and lower section of the leg.
Prevalent symptoms include;
Pain is the main symptom of sciatica, and it could be intermittent or continuous. It manifests as either a burning sensation or a sharp pain. It adversely affects the leg compared to the back, with the calf region experiencing the most pain.
The affected leg becomes weak, and it may develop a certain heaviness, which makes it difficult to lift it.
It is common to experience needle sensations at the back of the leg. You may also have a numbing or tingling sensation.
Difficulty in changing posture
Changing your posture can affect sciatica, either aggravating it or offering relief. Sitting, standing for a while, twisting the spine, or making the spine bend forwards will exacerbate the pain. Even coughing and trying to stand makes the pain feel worse.
On the other hand, walking, pelvic exercise, and lying on the back with a pillow holding up your knees can help relieve the pain.
Can you prevent sciatica?
The best and most effective remedy to sciatica pain is professional intervention. As soon as you start experiencing sciatica pain, you should consult a chiropractor to help you remedy the situation and get rid of sciatica pain.
While prevention isn’t always possible, the following tips can help you protect your back from further damage;
Exercising is a great way to keep in shape and maintain optimum health. For sciatica pain, you’ll need to focus on exercising your core and lower back muscles.
Consult a chiropractor to help you identify the most effective exercise regimen.
Benefits of Exercises in Prevention and Treatment of Sciatica;
- They help build muscle strength, which in turn improves the stability of the spine.
- They help improve bone density and health and prevent degeneration.
- Exercises improve blood supply to the tissues, which enhances healing and alleviates stiffness.
- Exercises enhance discs nourishment, which promotes disc health.
- Stretching improves the flexibility of the sciatic nerve, which reduces its stiffness.
- Proper sitting posture
Most people spend their days sitting in uncomfortable chairs. This can significantly increase the risk of experiencing sciatica pain.
If you experience discomfort after sitting for long, get a comfortable seat, and stand often to help align your back.
If you’re feeling discomfort or pain in your leg, hip, or back areas, it could easily be sciatica pain. The first step is getting professional help before the condition gets worse.
Why choose T98 for sciatica pain?
With years of practical and hands-on experience to back us, we have helped countless patients recover from sciatica pain. Our professionals are results orientated and will walk with you as you seek to alleviate sciatica pain. Don’t suffer from sciatica pain anymore. Let us help you get back on your feet and live a healthy life, away from sciatica pain.