Learn The Facts About Sciatica And Leg Pain
Sciatica is a painful condition that affects the main nerve that branches out from the lower back and travels through the hips, buttocks, and down both legs. For many people, the debilitating pain caused by this condition greatly reduces quality of life because the discomfort is present with every movement. Individuals with this problem need to learn the causes of sciatica and leg pain and find effective ways to treat their symptoms.
What Are Some Of The Symptoms of Sciatica?
Symptoms of this condition include weakness, numbness, and sometimes a tingling sensation. The pain often starts in the lower back and radiates down through the buttock and along the length of the leg. For most people, the condition will affect one side of the body or the other.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the patient. The pain and muscle weakness may or may not affect the foot, as well as the leg. Some people may feel numbness is one part of the leg while a different part of the leg is painful.
For some patients the condition is mild and may resolve itself within a few days. Patients experiencing pain that worsens over time or lasts more than seven days, should seek treatment from a qualified medical professional. Patients should seek treatment immediately if they experience sudden or severe symptoms or have trouble controlling the bladder or bowels.
Common Causes of Sciatica
Trauma is the most common cause of this condition although, in some rare instances, certain diseases can cause sciatic pain. Many people experience pain when a herniated disk or a bone spur growing on the vertebrae pinches the sciatic nerve. Although many different lower back problems can irritate the sciatic nerve, a lumbar herniated disk is among the most common sources of this condition. Each disk consists of a fibrous outer core surrounding a soft inner core. A disk becomes herniated when the inner core leaks out and irritates the nearby nerve root.
In rare occasions, some health conditions can lead to sciatica. Diabetes is a disease that can cause damage to the sciatic nerve. Tumor growth that compresses the nerve is another condition that can trigger symptoms.
What Can You Do To Relieve Sciatica at Home?
Self-care with cold packs, hot packs, stretching exercises, and non-prescription medications will offer relief for most people within a few days. A cold pack can be applied to the affected area when symptoms first occur. After a couple days, patients should replace the cold packs with heat.
Low-impact stretching exercises can help alleviate nerve compression. Patients should hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds and avoid bouncing and twisting. Some movement is better than no movement at all because inactivity for prolonged periods can worsen symptoms. Most patients can manage their pain with any of a variety of over-the-counter medications such as naproxen sodium or ibuprofen.
What Conservative Treatment Options are There for Sciatica?
Some patients find relief with chiropractic care or acupuncture. A qualified Chiropractor has multiple ways to help patients with this sciatica. Ultrasound uses sound waves to penetrate the affected tissues with gentle heat. The heat helps increase blood flow through the area, which helps reduce cramping, inflammation, stiffness, and muscle spasms.
A Chiropractor may also use spinal adjustment to help eliminate inflammation and restore normal range of motion to the spine. Chiropractors typically use the fingers and hands to correct any misalignment in the vertebrae. The Chiropractor uses controlled force through a series of high velocity thrusts or by delivering gentle pressure with minimal force. Spinal adjustments are painless and require no anesthesia. These manipulations help align the bones, eliminate inflammation, and reduce nerve irritation.
What Can Be Done if You Fail Conservative Care?
Individuals who fail to respond positively to self-care and non-invasive treatments may require medical intervention that is more aggressive to eliminate symptoms. Licensed physicians can prescribe a variety of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and narcotics to restore the ability to move with minimal discomfort. Some physicians recommend injecting corticosteroids to the affected area near the nerve root. These injections provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation. The effects usually wear off within a few months.
No two patients are alike. Sciatica can affect different people in difference ways even if the cause is identical. For some patients, the discomfort is mildly irritating and episodes are infrequent. For others, the discomfort is constant and can be incapacitating. It is important for individuals to seek the advice of a qualified health care professional if the pain interferes with daily activities.