Having pain in your sciatic nerve can be really debilitating. The sciatic nerve starts at the spinal cord and goes through your hip and behind, then goes down each leg. The sciatic nerve is one of the most important and longest nerves in the body. This nerve gives you the ability to feel and control your legs. If the nerve ever becomes irritated you will experience what is called sciatica.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, people between the ages of 30 and 50 will most likely experience sciatica. Sciatic can best be described as a sensation that can be felt as a moderate or excruciating pain in the back, behind and legs. Some people have reported that they have felt numbness and weakness in those areas as well. Sciatica can be classified as a symptom caused by some kind of injury to the nerve. It can also happen if an area that impacts the nerve is injured. One of these areas is called the Vertebrae, which are the bones located in the back and neck.
What can cause Sciatica?
There are a number of conditions (some common) that can cause sciatica and can affect the nerves that run along the back and can involve the spine. Sometimes sciatica can be caused by a fall, spinal tumor or sciatic nerve tumor. Some of the common conditions that cause sciatica are a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and piriformis syndrome.
- A herniated disk can occur when the first layer of your cartilage rips. The thick and clear material inside the cartilage can squeeze and compress the sciatic nerve. This can cause lower limb pain and numbness.
- Spinal stenosis also known as lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of your upper or lower spine; this can put pressure on your spinal nerves, which includes the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylolisthesis is associated with degenerative disk disease. This happens when one of your vertebras extends forward over another vertebra; this can cause a pinch in your sciatic nerve.
- Piriformis syndrome is a rare neuromuscular disorder. This disorder can cause sciatica, when the piriformis muscle contracts involuntarily or if it tightens. This muscle connects the lower portion of the spine to the thighbones
Treatment of Sciatica
Once you have been diagnosed with sciatica, your doctor will sit down with you and come up with a treatment plan. Depending upon the severity of the condition, your doctor may prescribe medication including epidural steroid injections, physical therapy or surgery. Your doctor may also suggest treatments you may do at home such as cold remedy, hot remedy, stretching, regular exercise or over the counter medication.
If you are told to use a cold remedy treatment, use ice packs or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel and you can then apply it to the area for 20 minutes. You can do this for several times a day. Hot remedy can be done by using a heating pad or hot pack. Some doctors my recommend you start with a cold remedy first for a few days then switching to the hot remedy. If you are told to do stretching or regular exercise your doctor may give you some easy stretching exercises in combination with other exercises such as swimming or any other low impact activities to do on your own, or he or she may suggest you work with a professional for a few days and continue at home.
Over the counter medications can help such as aspirin or ibuprofen, these can bring down the swelling and pain. Follow the instructions given to you by your doctor, using too much aspirin can cause some complications such as ulcers and stomach bleeding. Finally your doctor my recommend that you use a special pillow like the Contour Leg Pillow, which relieves low back strain by properly aligning your knees, hips, and spine while you sleep.
The Contour Leg Pillow offers a patented simple solution to immediately stabilize your pelvis and reduce the stress and twisting force on you sacroiliac joints, herniated discs, muscles and ligaments. This simple pillow helps reduce the lower back pain and leg pain associated with sciatica, herniated discs and spinal stenosis while sleeping.