What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is one of the longest nerves of the body, which stretches from the lower back to the knee, moving along the back of each leg. Sciatica is a condition where tremendous pain begins to affect these nerves. The pain is immense and is felt on one side of the body. The pain areas are the hips, the buttocks, and the back of the leg.
Most sciatica cases can be corrected without needing any surgery. However, in some cases surgeries might be required. This is usually done in people who suffer from complications such as loss of urinary bladder control.
Why Does Sciatica Occur?
The cause of sciatica is usually quite clear. This happens due to the presence of a herniated disk in the lower end of the spinal region. When these bone spurs occur, they put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which manifests itself as this great pain. The pain is severe and there might be flare-ups.
There might also be more dangerous causes for sciatica. In some cases, it could be because of the presence of a tumor that might be exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Some diseases might also cause wear and tear of the sciatic nerve, which can cause this condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
The most prominent symptom of sciatica is the pain itself. This pain extends from the lower back region right up to the knee, and it moves along the back of the leg. You might also find the effects of this pain on particular regions of your posterior such as the hips, the buttocks, and the rear of your thigh. Sometimes the pain might radiate to the back of the calf as well.
Sciatica pains usually occur only on one side of the body, i.e. on the back of only one leg.
Some people might experience the pain as a slight ache, but it could be very intense as a burning pain in some other people. The intensity of pain varies from person to person. The pain intensifies when there is some kind of physical exertion such as running or lifting weights. It may also be experienced more sharply when the person sneezes or coughs.
Numbness and tingling sensations in your legs might also occur. This could also happen in the other leg, i.e. the leg where the sciatic pain is not present.
Who Is at a Greater Risk for Sciatica?
There are many groups of people who have a greater chance of suffering from sciatica than others.
- People who are older are at a greater risk. As age advances, deformities in all bones in particular and in the spine in general start taking place. The chances of developing herniated disks and bone spurs increase. These directly give rise to sciatica.
- People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more at risk than others. This is especially true to people who have sit for long periods of time.
- Sciatica could also be an occupational hazard. People whose work includes a lot of physical exertion such as carrying heavy loads are at higher risk. People who drive heavy vehicles might also develop sciatica more than others. It is also a common occurrence in people who have to move their upper bodies a lot while their lower bodies do not go through much exercise.
- Diabetes has been listed as one of the prominent risk factors for sciatica. In diabetic persons, there is sugar retention in the bloodstream. Among other things, this sugar can damage the nerves, including the sciatic nerve.
What Happens if Sciatica Is Ignored?
Sciatica can get complicated if its symptoms are not addressed at the proper time. There are several complications that might occur.
- Over a period of time, the sciatica pain might elevate to unbearable levels. This could pose a detriment in the day-to-day activity of the individual.
- The person could lose all sensation in the leg that suffers from the pain.
- The affected leg could become weak and the person may find it difficult to move or even shift their body weight to that leg.
- It could lead to problems with bladder movements in the long run.
If any of these issues have occurred, then you must seek medical assistance as soon as possible. This is the ultimate degeneration of your sciatic nerve and you need treatment through modes such as surgery. At this stage, treatment should not be delayed any further.
What Can People with Sciatica Do?
There are several things you could do to obtain relief for your sciatica condition.
- Most sciatica pains occur in episodes. You might have them intensely at some times and they might completely diminish at other times. In such cases, you might try resting for a day. However, do not rest for a long period of time because sciatica worsens when you stay inactive.
- There are a few stretching exercises that could provide you with some relief. You could ask your doctor for some details on how to carry out these exercises. There are also video tutorials that could help you.
- Applying both hot packs and cold packs can prove to be of benefit. You could also apply them in alternating modes. Use the cold pack or ice pack for about 20 minutes per day directly on the affected part. Hot packs could be applied twice a week directly on the affected part.
- Keep yourself active when the pains are not present. This will help you stay fitter and will reduce the chances of having another flare-up.
- There are medications available too, both prescription medicines and herbal supplements. Prescription medicines can be used if you are looking for quick relief. However, for long-term benefits, you could strengthen your internal constitution by using the right kind of herbal supplements.
Sciatica need not be a companion for life. If you are aware of the early signs and symptoms and look for treatment options at the very outset, the treatment will be more effective and have long-term benefits.