Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which starts from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.
- Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk causes excessive pressure on the root nerve.
- Spinal stenosis narrows the spinal canal by the compression on the nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis is a slipped vertebra which it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening from the existing nerve position.
- Piriformis syndrome develops when the piriformis muscle(a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks) becomes tight because of more pressure, resulting in irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Below listed are more factors which contribute to Sciatica:
- Prolonged sitting: People who sit for prolonged duration are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.
- Obesity: Increase of stress on your spine through excess body weight can contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
- Diabetes: Usage of blood sugar levels, increases your risk of nerve damage.
- Age: Changes in the spine due to age, such as herniated disks and bone spurs
- Pain starts from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg. With discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway.
- Sometimes it might feel like a jolt or electric shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. It usually affects one side of your body.
- You may also feel numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
- Cold packs: Initially, you might get relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel.
- Hot packs: After two to three days, apply heat to the areas that hurt. Use hot packs, a heat lamp or a heating pad on the lowest setting. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs.
- Stretching: Stretching exercises for your lower back can help you feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing or twisting during the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Back Brace: Wearing a back brace can help relieve pain caused by sciatica.
When should you Consult a Doctor:
Mild sciatica usually goes away over time. Call your doctor if self-care measures fail or if your pain lasts longer than a week.
- You have sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg.
- You have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder.
The following tips can prevent your back from Sciatica:
- Exercise regularly: To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment.
- Maintain proper posture when you sit: Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
Exercises for Sciatica:
Doctors have suggested that the below exercises can lower the pain and give some relief to the back, when a person is suffering from sciatica.
- Sitting pigeon pose
- Shell Stretch
- Forward pigeon pose
- Knee to opposite shoulder
- Sitting Spinal stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Cat and Cow pose
- Seated Crossover Hamstring Stretch
- Seated Spinal twist
- Supine Butterfly
- Prone Torso Stretch
- Reclining pigeon pose
- Hip Stretch
Although most people recover fully from sciatica, often without treatment, however, it can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Seeking immediate medical attention in the worst situations is the best option.