Sciatica is a condition that causes pain or discomfort from irritation or damage to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerves run the entire length of the lower body, from the lower spine to the toes.
Although sciatic nerve damage usually takes place in the lower back, the results occur along the path of the nerve. The path of the sciatic nerve runs through the buttocks, along the outside of each leg and into the feet and toes.
Sciatic pain can vary from excruciating pain to a feeling of "pins and needles" in the feet, and can last a few days or become an ongoing problem.
What are the causes of sciatic pain?
Damage to the sciatic nerve can result from a sudden impact or stress to the lower spine, prolonged pressure in the lower back, or from genetic conditions that make the spine more susceptible to misalignment.
Sudden impact or stress to the lower spine
This could be the result of an accident or contact sport activity in which the body is struck violently or twisted suddenly, or when a heavy object is lifted improperly. The spinal vetebra become misaligned, causing the sciatic nerve to be pinched or irritated by spinal fluid.
Prolonged pressure on the lower back
Sciatic pain can result from sitting for long periods without a break, especially if the victim is overweight, has poor posture, and/or has weak core muscles, which are the deep abdominal muscles that support the spine. The lower back bears the brunt of the compression of the spine, and the sciatic nerve may be affected.
Some individuals are more susceptible to ruptured ("slipped") discs because of a genetic disorder. The spongy discs between the spinal vertebra become dry and brittle instead of soft and malleable, inhibiting fluid movement of the spine and causing misalignment. The gel inside the discs leaks out and disturbs the spinal fluid, which in turn irritates the sciatic nerve.
How can sciatica be treated?
Occasional mild sciatic pain will often resolve itself after a few days with some rest and non-prescription painkillers. Intense pain will require heat or icing (depending on effectiveness) and may even demand short term opiate prescription pain killers.
Chiropractors--like one from Black Horse Chiropractic--can examine the spine and realign the spinal vertebra to provide some relief. Ongoing problems may require multiple treatments.
The victim can assist in reducing the severity and occurrence of sciatic pain by maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening their core muscles through low impact activities such as Pilates or yoga, and taking breaks from sitting for extended periods while being mindful of their posture when they are seated.
After I started working at my dad's lumber yard, I realized that some of my lifting habits were hurting my back. I realized that I couldn't stand up straight without wincing a little bit, so I decided to talk with a chiropractor about the issue. The professional carefully evaluated my condition and told me that I needed to focus on healthier back habits. I was able to learn how to stay safe at work by wearing a back brace and focusing on my posture. I want you to avoid debilitating back pain, which is one of the reasons I made this blog.