10 Oct What You Need to Know About Sciatica
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to a pain along the path of the sciatic nerve—stemming in your back and reaching down your legs. The sciatica nerve spans from the lower back down the back side of each leg to the feet. This pain can affect the hips and buttocks and is generally only manifest on one side of the body.
Sciatica is most commonly associated with a herniated disk—causing inflammation, pain, and even numbness. It can also be caused by or in connection to pregnancy, muscle spasms, obesity, sleeping on a bad mattress, wearing high heels, or other back related strains.
What are the symptoms of Sciatica?
Symptoms of sciatica are usually manifest in a pain in the lower back to your buttocks and down the back of a leg—this pain can vary from a mild ache to a sharp and severe pain. There may be some discomfort anywhere along the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can sometimes feel like an electric shock or jolt.
The pain of sciatica can also cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in your muscles. This pain can reach from your lower back down to your foot. Though it can affect both legs, it’s much more common to only affect one leg. These symptoms may be worsened by coughing, sneezing, sudden movements, or long periods of sitting.
How do you treat Sciatica?
Though the pain of sciatica can be severe, it is not necessarily a serious problem. Mild sciatica usually goes away over time. Stretching and massaging out your lower back can also help the symptoms to subside. However, if self-care is making your symptoms worse, you should stop immediately and seek medical care.
See a doctor when symptoms last longer than a week or are becoming progressively worse. You should also seek medical attention if your pain follows an aggressive injury such as a car accident. In serious cases, surgery may be required.
How do you prevent Sciatica?
Take some protective measures against sciatica with good posture, regular exercise, stretching, using good body mechanics, and avoiding activities that put strain on your lower back. Though it is not always possible to prevent Sciatica, it can be avoided at times. If you sit for long periods of time, be sure to keep good posture. Support your lower back with a pillow, cushion, or rolled up towel. Keep your knees and hips level to the ground. Poor posture puts stress on your lower back and the sciatic nerve.
Exercising regularly can also help to prevent back pain. Building up and maintaining strong back muscles will help you to better support your back. Stretching out those muscles regularly, particularly during long periods of sitting or standing, can help you to avoid pain as you give keep your blood flowing and prevent tight muscles.
Using good body mechanics is also a great way to keep a healthy and strong back. When lifting, lift with your legs, don’t lift about your capability, ask for help, avoid putting excessive pressure on your lower back.