Know the Common Causes & Symptoms of this Condition
If you have been feeling a burning or tingling pain in your lower back
that reaches down to your buttock or leg, you may be suffering from sciatica.
However, sciatica is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself, but a symptom
of an underlying condition.
Leading causes of sciatica include:
- Lumbar herniated disc
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Spondylolisthesis or a slippage of vertebrae in your spine
- Piriformis syndrome
- Spinal tumors
Sciatica is very common with over three million cases in the United States
reported each year. It occurs when the large sciatic nerve gets irritated
or compressed. Pain caused by sciatica is characterized by mild to intense
pain on one side of your lower extremities, numbness or difficulty in
moving your legs down to your toes as well as worsening pain when sitting.
It is also possible to feel a sharp pain when standing up or walking.
While these symptoms may sound worse, it is rare to develop a permanent
sciatica nerve damage or spinal cord problems.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Sciatica
When your sciatica is becoming unbearable, it is important to have it diagnosed
by a doctor immediately to help you with the pain. In determining your
sciatica, you will have to perform a physical exam and your medical history
will be reviewed. X-Rays, CT scans, and MRIs may also be used to identify
the exact cause of your sciatica. Depending on your actual medical condition,
treatment is usually non-surgical and easily manageable. For acute sciatica,
doctors traditionally advocate bed rest for up to two weeks. Other treatment
plans include pain management medications such as pain relievers, muscle
relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.
Helpful Exercises for Pain Management
While moving may seem painful for individuals suffering from sciatica,
some stretch exercises are known to alleviate sciatica pain.
Here are some exercises that you can try:
Knee to chest stretch- Lie on your back with a flat cushion or book as a pillow for your head.
Bend your knees and keep them apart with your feet straight and flat on
the ground. Bend one knee up towards your chest. Grasp your hamstring
with both hands and slowly straighten the knee while gently bringing the
knee towards you. Hold for at least 20 seconds and bring it down to the
original position. Begin with the other leg and repeat for at least two
to three times.
Seated hip stretch- Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Cross your right leg over
your straightened left leg. With both hands, grasp your right knee as
if hugging towards your left side while keeping your back straight. Hold
this position for at least 30 to 60 seconds then repeat on the other side.
Pigeon pose- Begin by kneeling on all four with your back straight. You may also want
to start with a downward-facing-dog pose. Move your right knee between
your hands while extending your left leg straight behind you. Slowly turn
your right knee to your right so that your right leg is bent. Keep your
back straight and hold the position for at least five to 10 seconds then
switch to the other side. If it is not too painful, you may also try to
stretch your back upwards or lean your upper body forward towards your bent leg.
It’s normal to feel pain at the beginning of doing these exercises.
Just make sure to pace slowly and with care. If you feel that the pain
is becoming worse and debilitating, stop doing the exercises completely
and ask your healthcare professional for some advice on other physical
activities that can help you with your sciatica.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.