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Sciatica refers to "leg pain that originates in the lower back and travels down the leg through the buttocks via the sciatic nerve." There may also be tingling or numbness associated with the pain.
It's a condition that can affect persons of any age.
Sciatica is not a medical condition itself, though. Rather, it is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as a herniated disc, for example. This and similar issues give rise to sciatica and the discomfort it brings.
Signs that someone may be dealing with sciatica often include one or more of the following:
Remember that sciatica is merely a symptom; there are several possible causes that allow it to develop.
Each of our spinal discs contains a softer, inner material against the harder bone that protects the nerve trunk. In some cases, that soft material can start to leak out of the disc itself. When this happens, a herniation occurs. It irritates the nerve root, which can then produce sciatica.
In this case, small fractures can cause one disc to slip onto another. All of our spinal discs are in their separate areas of the column. When one disc slips, it can rub against another. This pinches the nerve, which can lead to sciatica.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
At the bottom of the spine is the sacroiliac joint. It can irritate the L5 nerve, and in turn, produce sciatica.
These are just a few of the more common causes of sciatica.
Physical therapy can be an excellent way to find relief from sciatica. A patient can do this under the supervision and guidance of qualified professionals. Some exercises are easy to do from home as well. Activities that double as an ideal "sciatica stretch" method include:
Any of these work on the body in various ways, but all include components that make them effective sciatica pain solutions.
Although most individuals do not typically use herbal remedies in the treatment of sciatica, they can be a useful option if sciatica causes muscular damage. In fact, a study conducted in 2014 and verified by the NCCIH found some evidence that refining natural herbs such as devil's claw and white willow into oral tablets yielded positive results. Others, such as Cayenne or Brazilian arnica, were useful as topical herbal remedies.
Sciatica that brings intense pain and discomfort may require some surgical procedures, each of which has different uses and effects. Sciatica recovery time depends on an individual's situation.
This procedure is most commonly used for herniated discs and involves removing the portion of the disc that is pinching the nerve. Professionals recommend such options if the sciatic pain lasts several weeks. The good news is that upwards of ninety percent of patients experience relief, and recovery time is only a few weeks depending on the person's situation. Often faster than other surgical methods in this respect.
Similar to a microdiscectomy, this procedure also involves removal of a small portion of bone or spinal disc for relief of the pinched nerve. However, it is most closely associated with the condition lumbar spinal stenosis instead. A doctor will remove stitches after a couple of weeks, after which the patient can also return to light duty at this time, per doctor recommendations. Full recovery may take up to three months depending on certain factors.
While painful, it does not have to be too debilitating. With the right information, there are a wealth of options at one's disposal to provide effective sciatica relief.