There are a lot of myths and facts revolving around Sciatica. In order to address the facts and provide accurate information, this guide about Sciatica will serve to acknowledge the truth and inform you of all you need to know about Sciatica.
One myth of Sciatica is that all patients with Sciatica experience the same symptoms. For one, this is not true and the experience of Sciatica varies among patients.
Usually, those who suffer from Sciatica has pain that runs from the low back all the way down to the back of one leg.
There are times when this pain can run into the foot and toes. The pain is usually resembling either a tingling, burning or prickly sensation and is typically only felt on one side of the body.
The type of pain that may be experienced in a patient that suffers from Sciatica depends on the location of the nerve compression.
In addition, the severity and duration of the pain can carry as well. There is a range of sensations that can go from irritating and intermittent to severe pain that is debilitating.
If untreated, the pain can worsen over time and persist for over a much longer time period, though it is common that an episode of Sciatica can last for a few weeks.
Another myth is that Sciatica does not lead to permanent nerve damage. This is a dangerous myth to believe because Sciatica should be taken seriously and be treated immediately, as there is a possibility that permanent nerve damage can occur.
If thee are signs of bowel or bladder incontinence and increasing weakness or loss of sensation in the leg, it is a sign that there is a more severe case of Sciatica that should be treated as soon as possible before further damage can be done.
Many also are under the impression that Sciatic nerves are only confined to the gluteus maximus. This is also yet another myth that should not be perpetuated, as sciatic nerves extend from the low back all the way to the toes.
The nerves are between two vertebrae in the lower back and travel behind the hip joining to the buttocks and back of each leg and into the foot.
These are the largest nerves in the body, and therefore pain is not solely confined to one area of the body, or in this case, the gluteus maximus.
An important piece of information to know about Sciatica is that is it is caused by irritation of one or both of the sciatic nerves.
This usually happens when a herniated disk puts pressure on a sciatic nerve root. If there is leg pain, it is often misconstrued by the patient that sciatica is caused by leg problems, but this simply is not the case.
There are other causes of Sciatica which includes the spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal tumors, trauma, and sciatic nerve tumor or injury.
If you have ever heard of Piriformis syndrome, it is not the same name for Sciatica. While the two syndromes have similar symptoms, they are two completely different syndromes and have different causes and treatments.
Piriformis syndrome involves spasms of the piriformis muscle, which irritates the sciatic nerves.
This is the reason that the two syndromes feel similar, but it is vital to note the differences and to be certain which syndrome is being experienced in order to find the best possible remedy available.
Yet another myth is rampant regarding Sciatica syndrome, and it is that it only occurs among sedentary people.
This is not true- active people are just as susceptible to developing sciatica. Especially if one is exposed to activities that are routinely requiring of them to carry heavy loads or twisting the back, they are especially at risk of developing Sciatica syndrome.
The last popular myth that will be debunked is that Sciatica always resolves within a few weeks with conservative treatment. This is yet another myth, though it is a common result.
Even with using treatments such as exercise, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections or the like, the pain of Sciatica can last much longer.
Since each patient experiencing Sciatica is unique, the treatments should vary among all carriers and be individualized according to their needs.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica has symptoms of leg pain that also include sensations that vary amongst each individual that is a carrier of Sciatica.
Some sensations that can be felt along the pain is a possible tingling, numbness, or weakness.
This originates in the lower back which then travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. While it is a symptom, it is not a medical diagnosis in itself.
If one is suffering from Sciatica it is a result of an underlying medical condition that should be addressed immediately.
There may be symptoms that are characterized by more than one feeling or variation. There may be a constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg or could result in paint that is worse when sitting.
In addition, there may be burning or tingling that runs down the leg and has a sensation of a dull ache.
Weakness, numbness or difficulty may be experienced when moving the leg or foot. In addition to all of these symptoms, it is also possible to experience a sharp pain that may potentially make it difficult to stand up or to walk.
Sciatic pain can be carried from infrequent and irritation but can also be categorized as a constant pain that is incapacitating and inhibiting you from doing remote tasks.
There are a variety of symptoms that are involved with sciatica because the root of the issue is with the sciatic nerve which is the largest in the body.
The sciatica symptoms may also be able to range in location, severity, and frequency of how much it is experienced. This all depends on the condition that is causing sciatica.
One of these possible conditions is lumbar herniated disc, but there are countless others so be sure to talk with a medical professional about the underlying possibility that Sciatica may be a symptom of a more serious condition.
It is not common that sciatica will cause permanent nerve damage, but it is possible that tissue damage can be a long lasting result of Sciatica is left untreated of an unspecified amount of time.
For this, it is important to take as many precautions as possible in order to recover from the symptom as sound as possible.
The sciatica symptoms occur along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body which is composed of individual nerve roots.
These nerve roots start by branching out from the spine in the lower back which then combines to form the sciatic nerve. The nerve starts at the lumbar segment 3, which is in the lower back.
Subsequently, at each level of the lower spine, there is a nerve root that exits from the inside of the spine and then comes together to make up the sciatic nerve.
When the nerve is pinched, that is where one can feel the sciatica symptoms, which is felt differently in each individual, which is why a variety of treatments are available for the elusive pain that is caused from sciatica.
The incidences that usually occur for sciatica pain is usually experienced in the late 50s, and then the risk declines after that age.
It is extremely uncommon to experience sciatica symptoms before the age of 20. In addition, there is no particular event or injury that can be attributed to sciatica.
Rather, symptoms of sciatica are developed over time. The good news is that the vast majority that experience sciatica typically find relief within a few weeks or months and are able to seek treatment that is not surgical. However, it is possible to experience severe and debilitating pain from sciatica.
Especially in the event of suffering from bowel or bladder dysfunction in addition to sciatica symptoms, this is further signs that the sciatica case is serious and should be tended to immediately.
In addition, it is vital to realize that there is another medical condition that is underlying that is exacerbating the sciatica symptoms. Whichever medial condition is underlying needs to be addressed and treated immediately in order to properly treat sciatica.
What are Causes of Sciatica?
There are several different lower back problems that can be constituted as the most common causes of sciatica. One of these causes is a Lumbar herniated disc, which occurs when the soft inner core of the disk leaks out.
This is also considered a hernia- the soft inner core leaks through the fibrous outer core. While doing this, it irritates the contagious nerve root.
The herniated disk can also be known as other names, such as a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, or pinched nerve.
With all of these conditions, however, sciatica is most commonly caused by the lumbar herniated disc.
Another possibility of a cause of Sciatica is the degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease is something that occurs naturally as aging takes effect.
There is a possibility that degenerated discs can take root in the lower back and irritate a nerve root, which then could cause sciatica symptoms.
Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed once the weakened disc has excessive micro-motion.
There are inflammatory proteins that exist within this disc that eventually become exposed and thus irritate the area, which is including the nerve roots.
In addition to the previous diseases or injuries that can cause sciatica, there is also Isthmic spondylolisthesis which occurs when there is a small stress fracture.
With a small stress factor in the spine, this may enable a vertebral disc to slip forward on one another. With a combination of disc space collapses, there is a large possibility that a nerve can get pinched and thus cause sciatica.
Another condition that is known to commonly cause sciatica is lumbar spinal stenosis. This is due to a narrowing of the spinal canal and is usually related to the natural aging of the spine.
The demographic that suffers most from lumbar spinal stenosis are typically adults over 60 and can be considered a result from enlarged facet joints, overgrowth of soft tissue, and a bulging disc that is placing pressure on the nerve roots.
With all of these possibilities, it is directly linked to sciatica pain and can either be a combination of results or on a one by one basis.
Yet another condition is the sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which usually irritates the sacroiliac joint and is located at the bottom of the spine.
The leg pain that is experienced is caused by sciatica and is an irritation of the nerves.
In addition to all of these causes of sciatica which namely involved with vertebrae problems surrounding the lower back, there are also other causes of sciatica which can result in the symptoms.
Some of these causes are not related to age and should be considered with caution if one is susceptible to sciatica. One of these causes is pregnancy.
When pregnant, and individual experiences changes to the body that is natural to pregnancy, including weight gain and a shit of one’s center of gravity.
In addition to this, there are hormonal changes that take place as well, which means sciatica can take place during pregnancy.
Further, scar tissue is able to compress the nerve root and cause sciatica. Muscle strain is also a possibility of causing sciatica, as inflammation that is related to a muscle strain can put pressure on a nerve root which would result in the symptoms of sciatica. Lastly, Spinal tumors and infections are other potential causes.
While not entirely common, spinal tumors can impinge on a nerve which is rooted in the lower back which exacerbates symptoms.
Infections also can occur in the lower back and therefore irritate the nerve root and affect the nerves, causing sciatica as well.
If one is suffering from any symptoms of sciatica and needs to place a cause, it is worthwhile to be aware of common causes in order to get to the root of the issue.
What are Risk Factors for Sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying medical condition that can be caused by wear and tear on the vertebrae.
While aging and degenerative disc disease can damage vertebrae, there are also ways that sciatic nerve inflammation or compression can be caused which leads to sciatica. These following causes include injury that causes trauma to the back.
In addition, a pinched nerve, which is pressure from surrounding bone, cartilage, muscles, or tendons, may be a potential cause.
Tightening or spasm of the piriformis muscle in the buttock, which can exacerbate the problem of sciatica, causes Piriformis syndrome.
In addition, narrowing of the spinal column may result in spinal stenosis- a typical cause of sciatica.
There are also other rare cases that sciatica may be caused by a benign tumor or cyst. In addition, cancer that has spread or metastasized can cause sciatica symptoms.
Degeneration of the sciatic nerve root is also a common cause of symptoms from sciatica.
However, there are many factors at hand that has the ability to increase the risk for sciatica. While some factors may be controlled, there are others that cannot be controlled. However, there are also other factors that can be avoided.
One of the common risk factors for sciatica is age. Sciatica is most commonly experienced individuals between 30 and 50 years of age.
There are other risk factors that may increase the chance of contracting sciatica symptoms as well, which includes having diabetes.
If one has diabetes, this increases the risk for nerve damage. In addition, genetics takes a large role in the risk of developing sciatica.
This could be from inherited spine abnormalities, which will further increase the risk of experiencing sciatica symptoms.
Generally, menopause, or the ending of menstrual periods in women, may lead to bone loss. With a degradation of the bone, this is also a common factor for developing sciatica risks.
Physical activities that involved heavy lifting of twisting the back on a repetitive basis is also a risk that can result in sciatica.
Sports such as golf are especially prone to an increased risk of developing sciatica symptoms because of the repetitive twisting of the back.
Lastly, on the opposite side of the spectrum of risks involving physical activity is a sedentary lifestyle, which could run the risk of an increased possibility of experiencing sciatica symptoms.
If one sits around for a long period of time, this could be a potential factor in attributing to sciatica.
What are Sciatica Symptoms?
There are many different symptoms that are experienced in varying ways depending on the individual. That means that sciatica can have severe and debilitating pain for some, while others experience sciatica infrequently and mildly irritating.
Either way, the problems stemming from sciatica have the potential to get worse with time, which means no matter the scale of pain that one experiences from sciatica initially, it is recommended to treat sciatica and the underlying medical issue immediately to put a stop to the potential pain that is felt in the future.
Typically sciatica is only affecting one side of the lower body. The pain often radiates from the lower back all the way down to the back of the thigh, to the leg, and in some cases reaches the feet.
There are common sciatica symptoms where the pain is present in both the lower back as well as the leg.
However, it is common that the leg pain is more severe than the lower back pain, which is a good indication if it is in fact sciatica that is being experienced. If there is a lower back pain, it is usually not as severe in leg pain.
Other symptoms may include a constant pain in one side o the buttock or leg- however, it is important to note that it is rare to feel the pain in both the right and left sides.
There is also a trend of the pain that runs down the sciatic nerve when suffering from sciatica symptoms, which is typically felt in the back of the thigh and into the lower leg and foot.
The pain usually feels better when patients take time to lie down or walking, though the symptoms are exacerbated when the patient is sitting or standing still.
The pain that is common to sciatica is sharp and searing and does not tend to be dull.
In addition, there are other senses that are felt with sciatica, which includes a tingling “pins and needles” sensation, numbness, weakness, or a prickling sensation that runs down the leg.
Each nerve root has its own sciatica symptoms, which means that wherever the compress nerve root is located the symptoms can be felt differently.
For instance, the L4 nerve root sciatica symptoms usually affect the thigh and queue weakness when the leg is straightened.
Conversely, the L5 nerve root has sciatica symptoms that extend to the big toe and ankle, in which patients may feel the pain of numbness on the top of the foot.
The pin can he particularly felt on the web of skin between the big toe and second toe. Another nerve root is the S1 nerve root in which sciatica affects the outer part of the foot.
This may then radiate to the little toe, and it is common that patients experience weakness when raising the heel off of the ground to stand on their tiptoes.
It is essential to require immediate medical attention especially since sciatica symptoms tend to continue to get worse with time and may indicate future nerve damage.
If there are symptoms that occur in both legs, that is often referred to as bilateral sciatica. This can cause bladder or bowel incontinence and can indicate cauda equina syndrome that is an acute compression of several nerve roots.
If any of the above symptoms are experienced, seek professional help as soon as possible in order to avoid potential permanent nerve damage.
How is Sciatica Diagnosed?
Sciatica is best diagnosed with a full physical exam and medical history. There are certain examination maneuvers that help the healthcare professional to deduce their diagnoses and ensure that it is sciatica that is being experienced.
There are other similar effects that can be felt in a similar way as sciatica, which means that it is important to go to a medical professional that is thoroughly well versed on the symptoms of sciatica or other nerve disorders.
In addition to a physical exam and an overview of the medical history, it is also possible that x-rays and other tests such as the CT scan, MRI scan (or Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan), and electromyogram are used in order to define the causes of sciatica.
Depending on your symptoms that you are feeling and relaying to your doctor, different treatments may be available in order to further speed along the process of relaying effective treatment.
In the physical exam, the doctor will look for symptoms that are to be inspected is looking for a weakness when bending the knee.
In addition, they will look for a difficulty bending the foot inward or down, or a difficulty bending forward or backward. Abnormal or weak reflexes are also telltale signs that an individual is affected by sciatic symptoms.
If there is a relay of a loss of sensation or numbness this will also indicate an individual is suffering sciatic symptoms.
Further, if there is a pain when lifting the leg straight up off of the examining table, this is also symptomatic of sciatica and will all help the doctor to determine if the individual, in fact, has sciatica.
In addition to MRIs, X-rays, or other imaging tests, it is also a common practice to take blood tests in the event to verify the symptoms and to proper prescribe treatment.
What are Treatment Options for Sciatica?
There are many different treatment options for sciatica, but first and foremost it is essential to identify the underlying cause and symptom of sciatica.
It is essential to identify the underlying medical condition in order to properly identify and treat sciatica.
In special and rare cases, it is possible that no treatment is required and that sciatica can recover on its own without any outside or additional influences.
To start, it is recommended that conservative treatment is the best method to pursue, which if it does not work can be elevated to more intensive treatments.
A common method of treatment of sciatica is applying heat or ice to the painful area. Once the ice is applied for the first 48 to 72 hours, it is then recommended to use a heat source directly on the painful area for best chances of recovery.
In addition, it is adviced and permissible to take over the counter pain relievers. Some pain relievers that can be used is ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
In the treatment of taking care of your back in the meantime, it is not recommended to have extended bed rest.
However, it is recommended to reduce your activity for the first couple of days of rehabilitation, which can slowly be increased in order to start usual activities again.
When suffering from sciatica, it is strongly advised to not engage in heavy lifting or twisting of the back for 2 or 4 weeks at a time.
For optimal recovery, do not engage in these activities for at least 6 weeks. It is permissible to exercise lightly 2 or 3 weeks into treatment, but the exercises should concentrate on strengthening your abdomen and should include stretching of the spine to promote flexibility.
There are other measures that can help with your recovery process of sciatica, which includes injections. At times, it is common to use an epidural steroid injection in order to reduce sciatica.
This technique does not work for everyone, and the effects seem to be temporary that provides relief merely at weeks at a time.
Still, it can be effective in pain relief especially in instances of intense sciatica pain. It can also allow a patient to progress with a conditioning exercise program which will further help them along in their treatment.
For severe of ongoing sciatic nerve pain, it is usually recommended to use a combination of treatments in conjunction with specific sciatica exercises.
There are alternative treatments available as well for sciatica treatment. The most common forms of alternative care for sciatica is chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
With chiropractic and manual manipulation, it is common that spinal adjustments are made by a trained health professional.
This treatment is focused on providing better spinal alignment, which should alleviate symptoms of sciatica and help with addressing a number of underlying conditions that may be occurring.
These manipulations are not painful and can aid in the healing process. Another alternative therapy that is widely accepted to treat sciatica is acupuncture.
Acupuncture is FDA approved in the United States for back pain treatment. In addition, the National Institutes of Health has recognized acupuncture as being effective in relieving back pain, which extends to sciatica.
The practice is centered on maintaining a balance throughout the flow of energy in the body.
Acupuncture utilizes the practice of sticking hair-thin needles near the area of pain. This procedure is painless and has many benefits that provide long-lasting treatment for individuals experiencing sciatica.
In addition to the other treatments, massage therapy is also generally used to help with back pain and treat sciatica.
Massage therapy is beneficial because it includes increased blood circulation and muscle relaxation. In addition, it can relieve endorphins, which act as a body’s natural pain reliever.
If Sciatica is reoccurring, it is beneficial to look at treatments that are specifically used for reoccurring pain.
If it is found that the sciatica pain is not healed within six to twelve weeks, other forms of physical therapy should be explored in order to alleviate pain and prevent ongoing sciatic pain.
There are many professionals who specialize in treating symptoms that are specifically from sciatica.
Chiropractors, specialists, and physical therapists are all among the suggested professionals that can help aid you in the recovery process.
What is the prognosis of Sciatica?
The prognosis of sciatica usually has the general consensus that it will get better on its own. The healing process usually takes a few days to a few weeks for most people.
The vast majority of sciatica pain will overall heal within a six to twelve-week time span. This will follow initial pain relief, which should then be followed up with physical therapy and exercise.
When partaking in gentle and low impact physical therapy and exercise, it will further alleviate pain and prevent any ongoing sciatic pain that is potentially able to continue with time.
Overall, it is advisable that a qualified medical professional would oversee any type of sciatica treatment in order to maximize the efficiency of the treatment.
Depending on the complications that ensue, it is also possible to suffer a slipped disc or a spinal stenosis while trying to treat sciatica symptoms which should be treated at the same time as sciatica for best results.
Especially if one is experiencing symptoms like unexplained fever with back pain, or back pain after a severe blow or fall it is important to follow up and take all the precautions necessary to treat your body and minimize effects.
Redness or swelling on the back or spin, pain traveling down your legs below the knee, weakness or numbness in buttocks or thighs are also indications that you should contact a medical professional immediately to reduce further impacts or symptoms of sciatica.
In addition, call a medical doctor if you have been losing weight unintentionally, are using steroid drugs, have had back pain before but are experiencing different and worse symptoms, or if the back pain has lasted more than 4 weeks.
Can Sciatica be Prevented?
Prevention of sciatica varies and is dependent on the cause of the nerve damage. As a general rule, it is advisable to avoid prolonged sitting or lying with pressure on buttocks. In order to further prevent sciatica, avoid pressure on your back and legs.
This means refraining from lifting any heavy objects and to be sure to not be standing or sitting for long periods of time.
This means that if you are susceptible to sciatica, it is best to avoid long flights or working and a desk for long hours. I f it is required to lift objects, be sure to lift objects safely.
Be sure to keep your back straight and bend your knees when picking up an object. Be careful not to bend of twist your back when lifting heavy objects.
In addition, it is advised to maintain a healthy weight if you are interested in preventing sciatica.
Caregivers should provide information that will be able to inform you how much you should weigh for an optimal limited risk of sciatica.
In addition, it is possible to create a weight loss plan for long-term prevention. Lastly, it is important to exercise.
As your caregiver about the best stretching and warm up strategies that are available in order to prevent sciatica for the future.
Learn about sciatica and how it may be treated, and use the educational aid to help you prevent sciatica for optimal health.
Sometimes, sciatica is unavoidable, especially when concerning degradation of bones or other factors that contribute to sciatica symptoms.
Overall, however, it is important to take care of your health in order to avoid sciatica symptoms.
Home Remedies For Sciatica
There are many physical therapy exercises that one is able to do at home when suffering from sciatica.
Many of these exercises incorporate strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning which is a central component of any sciatica treatment plan.
These exercises are expected to be done regularly in order to promote the best recovery allowed.
With a combination of aerobic exercises and gentle strengthening, patients may recover from sciatica symptoms faster and are less likely to suffer from future episodes of pain.
Some of these exercises are designed to strengthen the spinal column and to stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
The strengthening exercises also focus on the lower back as well as the abdominal muscles which are the main point for sciatica symptoms that take place.
It is also highly recommended to partake in stretching exercises that are designed for alleviating pain and target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible.
The most important part of the body to focus on is the hamstring, which is essential for stretching in the name of sciatica symptoms.
In addition to strengthening and stretching, low impact aerobic exercise is proved to help remedy the symptoms of sciatica.
Low impact exercises can include walking, swimming, or pool therapy. They also have the unique benefit of releasing necessary endorphins that will release the body’s natural painkillers.
If all of these exercises are done on a regular basis, the chance for alleviating and eliminating sciatica pain is more probable.
Take into considering doing a mix of all three exercise techniques in order to promote a multifaceted and well-rounded approach to recovery.
In addition, it is possible that there are more specific sciatica conditions at hand that need to be addressed individually.
If this is the case, consult with your doctor in order to determine the safest way to go about a physical therapy session at home.
No matter the home remedy that is chosen, it is vital to ensure that you have permission from a doctor.
Home remedies are not meant to replace professional services that are designed to treat sciatica specifically.
Home remedies are designed to help patients that want to further their recovery process on their own time. With this said, sciatica is a reversible symptom that can be treated via various means.