Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It is a very common condition that about 80% of adults will go through. There are many things you can do to alleviate the pain. This site will show you some tips that can help you to back get some relief from back pain caused by sciatica.
Sciatica is the term given to any type of pain that results from irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back passing through the buttocks and legs and ends somewhere just past the knees. Irritation to the sciatic nerve can be either mild or severe. Sometimes people confuse sciatica to back pain but in reality sciatica is not only limited to back pain.
Most common causes for sciatica are:
- Lumber spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc- this is when the cartilage between the vertebrae (which acts as cushion) slips thus exerting pressure to the sciatic nerve.
- Tumors within the spine which may compress sciatic nerve root
- Spondylolisthesis- situation whereby a disc slips the vertebra which is below it thus pinching sciatic nerve
- Infections in the spine
- Spine injury
- Condition called cauda equina syndrome that affects nerves within the lower parts of the spinal cord. It is a very serious condition which needs immediate medical attention since it can lead to permanent damage to the nervous system.
Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica
The most common symptom of sciatica is experiencing shooting pain along the sciatic nerve. This is anywhere along the lower back, buttocks and the back side of either leg (sciatica in the legs usually affects one leg). This pain ranges from a mild feeling to sharp pains or even severe discomfort. This is especially true if you have the habit of sitting or standing for long periods of time. Sneezing, straining, coughing, twisting and lifting usually worsens the pain. Other common signs include the feeling of pins and needles in the toes and feet. If you experience numbness in either leg along the sciatic nerve then this is an indication of sciatica. Sometimes feeling pain on a different part of the same leg may occasionally accompany this numbness.
Sciatica Pain Relief
Treatment for sciatic pain can range from exercises, medication, hot and cold packs as well as alternative remedies. Effectively combining self-help techniques with medical treatment is always a good approach to relieving chronic sciatica pain.
Exercise offers excellent sciatica pain relief. It may seem counterintuitive, but exercising offers you a better way to relieve sciatic pain than just having bed rest. You can rest for one or two days as the pain flares up after which further rest will make the situation worse.
Failure to do enough exercises and movement causes the back muscles and other spinal structures to get deconditioned thus rendering them unable to support the back. Doing regular exercise is healthy for the discs within the spine. These movements improve fluids and nutrient exchange within the discs, thus keeping them healthy and prevents pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica exercises stimulates production of endorphins which are known to be natural painkillers.
However, it is highly recommended that you visit a health professional before starting any exercise program so as to get accurate diagnosis for the cause of your pain.
Sciatica pain relief exercise program should include the following.
- Specific diagnosis. These exercises are aimed at curbing the underlying causes for your sciatic pain like spinal stenosis and lumber herniated discs. Engaging yourself in the wrong exercise can escalate the sciatic pain which explains why you should have an accurate diagnosis before you star any exercising program.
- Core muscle strength. These are exercises that are aimed at strengthening your back muscles as well as abdominal muscles so as to provide enough support to your back. These exercises targets muscles that can lead pains if they are tight and not flexible. Engaging yourself in regular muscle strengthening programs helps you recover faster and also prevents future incidents of sciatica pain.
- Hamstring stretching. Hamstrings are the muscles that are located at the back of your thighs. Most types of sciatica pains can be relieved by participating in regular hamstring stretching.
- Aerobic exercises. These are exercises aimed at improving general body fitness. The best example of these type of exercises is walking since it is relatively low impact and it provides all benefits of an aerobic exercise program. A three miles walk at brisk pace is enough.
Painkillers are also very effective in relieving sciatica pain. Over the counter painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen usually work the best. However, if you have some medical condition like high blood pressure, heart diseases, liver disease, history of stomach and digestive complications or asthma, these drugs are not suitable for you. In the cases where other the counter painkillers are not working then you can opt for mild opiate-based painkillers like codeine. You can even go for muscle relaxant such as diazepam if you are experiencing severe symptoms.
For persistence pain you can use the following painkillers since prolonged use of NSAIDs has some negative impacts on your body like digestive and stomach problems
• Paracetamol and codeine
• Tricylic antidepressant like amitriptyline
• Gabapentin which is used if the nerves are suspected to be inflamed