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Surviving Sciatica

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The sciatic nerves are the two largest nerves in the body. Starting from the lower lumbar of the spine reaching down the back sides of each leg and rounding out to the big toes, a pain from a nerve of this size and magnitude is hardly one that can be ignored. Shooting, throbbing pain sensations are shot through the legs when these nerve fibers become pinched in any way. Though some might experience excruciating and debilitating pain causing movement in the legs to temporarily cease, others may simply experience slight tingling or numbness in a tender area.

A contributing factor is also a herniated disk. “Your disks can get fatigued like a wire hanger being constantly bend back and forth. Eventually, a disk may weaken and perhaps break,” says Loren M. Fishman, M.D. and the coauthor with Carol Ardman of Relief Is in the Stretch: End Low Back Pain Through Yoga. "Or a vertebra can slip forward and the nerve fibers may become compressed that way, much like a kink in a garden hose." This can happen due to an injury or trauma, long bouts of physical activity (as is the case with many athletic people who suffer from sciatica), or simply from years of constant bending or sitting for long stretches. It's possible to ignite pain with the simplest movement, much like what happened with Doran. "People may aggravate their sciatica with a sneeze or reaching for a box of cereal," Fishman says.

If you find yourself to undergo severe pain when a sciatic nerve attacks, the best thing to do is become stationary in a comfortable position on the couch or laying in bed. To enhance the rest period and aid in the healing process, it is important to rest your aching leg upon a specially crafted and supportive leg pillow that allows the correct elevation height for the blood to continue to flow smoothly throughout the body and to stretch the pinched nerve. Relaxing the leg in a neutral position will allow the nerve to relax and un-restrict the fibers that became inflamed and entangled.

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