Sciatica is a health disorder that leads to pain or discomfort as a result of compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.
One of the body’s longest nerves, the sciatic nerve starts in the rear of the pelvis, and goes through the buttocks and down the length of the leg to finish in the feet.
The most common area to experience the pain or discomfort is in the region of the legs and buttocks.
Most patients are lucky and the pain starts to naturally clear within a period of one or two weeks, although some patients will experience pain that lasts for 12 months or more.
Symptoms of sciatica
There are plenty of symptoms that are related to the irritated or compressed sciatic nerve, including:
- A recurring feeling of pain and numbness
- A tingling feeling that starts in the region of the lower back and slowly moves down the body through one of the legs until it reaches the foot.
- A feeling of weakness in the lower leg muscles, such as the calf muscles or even other muscles that control the movement of the ankle and foot.
- The type of pain can range from very painful to mild and is easily made worse by the simplest of things, such as sitting for a long time, coughing or sneezing.
- Even though some patients experience the more generalized back pain, the major area of pain and discomfort associated with sciatica are the legs and buttocks.
What is the hidden cause of sciatica?
An episode of sciatica isn’t always straightforward for the doctor to diagnose and determine the real cause of the irritation.
There are plenty of cases where their origin of the irritation has been traced to misaligned or tight muscles.
One muscle that can cause problems is the Piriformis muscle. This muscle is located in the buttock region and is woven through bone and other muscles.
It is relatively close to the sciatic nerve, which means it has the potential to cause tingling, numbness and pain in the region of the rear of the leg and down to the foot.
In the event of this muscle pushing against the sciatic nerve or other muscles in the area, it can lead to what is known as Piriformis syndrome.
The degree of pain associated with this disorder can vary and even varies in the region of the legs and lower back.
A neuromuscular disorder like Piriformis syndrome impacts the sciatic nerve and causes pain whenever the Piriformis muscle compressed the nerve.
The type of pain associated with this disorder includes numbness, tingling and pain in the lower leg, thigh and buttock area.
If the pain is being caused by the Piriformis muscle (and to a herniated muscle) it is usually possible to treat the condition without the use of physical therapy, pharmaceuticals or surgery.
There are several types of muscle imbalances, with Piriformis syndrome one of the main causes that can lead to sciatica, but it is certainly not the only cause.
Muscle imbalance is caused where there are two muscles that vary in strength and start to conflict with each other.
This may be a result of lifestyle choices or injury. For instance, for those that spend a lot of time sitting, there is the risk of certain muscles in the abdomen, hips and spine from shortening.
The body will adapt to the shortened muscles, but it can start to put pressure on the spinal nerves and increase the likelihood of pain in this area.
Fortunately, this type of muscle imbalance is quite easy to avoid by having a more balanced lifestyle of rest and play, or at least to stand and move about every hour.
How to treat sciatica?
Similar to other muscles throughout the body, the regular use and movement of the Piriformis muscle can help to improve its ability to function properly.
By exercising at regular intervals it is possible to release a lot of the tension and constriction in the muscle and this is appreciated for its ability to reduce pain by correcting issues with misalignment and soothing inflammation and irritation.
Possible treatment options include:
Hot and cold compresses – the regular use of a hot and cold compress can slowly help to minimize the inflammation and relieve pain.
This is a very simple method to use and basically relies on alternatively placing a heating and ice pack on the affected area.
A hot and cold compress helps to loosen the tight muscles by slowing enhancing the blood flow in this area of the body.
St. John’s Wort – a simple remedy is to use is herbal medicine like St. John’s Wort to help with relieving the pain.
It is simply used by applying an oil infusion of the medicine and massaging the affected area. This is a quite reliable treatment method and can give the quite quick results.
Trigger point therapy – a type of massage that is performed by the professional therapist. It helps to eliminate the tightness that has started to build up in the muscle.
By combining this type of therapy with regular stretching exercises it is possible to see a very promising outcome.
Also, it is essential to avoid any rough or sudden movements because this can quickly lead to a great degree of pain and discomfort.
Devil’s Claw – the devil’s claw is sourced from a plant native to southern Africa and it’s a natural remedy for treating a variety of conditions, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and anti-inflammatory problems.
It is easily found in capsule or powder form – but fresh is best if able to source the natural plant. However, it shouldn’t be used by patients with peptic ulcers or taking blood-thinning medications.
Stretching – A regular session of stretching is a great benefit for every muscle throughout the body, and the piriformis muscle is certain to benefit from this activity.
Stretching is great for relieving the build up of tension in the muscles, which can go a long way to help reduce nerve pain and inflammation.
While it may not seem like the easiest much to stretch because it is deep inside the body, there are in fact several useful stretches that can be performed to help stretch out the Piriformis and get some relieve from the discomfort.
Also, it can help to start playing a sport or working out. Any activity that keeps the body moving and works the muscles is certain to benefit in the long-term.