Sciatica pain is extremely common. The pain can range from debilitating to a minor discomfort.
If you’ve ever suffered from an extreme case of sciatica you know just how hard it can be to function day to day. You may be reading this very post because you’re dealing with pain right now! If you’ve never experienced sciatic pain before and you’re just reading to learn about, will start from the beginning.
Hopefully you can take away some knowledge you didn’t previously have before, and perhaps use the tips segment to help you deal with any sciatic nerve pain you may be experiencing.
Most Common Sciatic Symptom
The most common symptom (patient complaint) is a pain that runs down the back of their leg(s). It can be a dull pain, a sharp pain, and/or a burning sensation. It all depends on exactly where the sciatic nerve is compressed, and how much the nerve is compressed.
Sciatica: A Definition
The word “sciatica” is the most common (layperson’s word) used to describe the pain or discomfort a human body feels when their sciatic nerve is stressed, pinched, or damaged in some way.
The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back all the way down your leg to your feet. Most sciatic suffers usually have only one side of their body causing them pain. However, in some cases, sciatic nerve pain can be extreme down both legs. We hope that isn’t your case!
Chiropractors and/or doctors have other terms to describe sciatic nerve discomfort; such as, “nerve root pain”, “discgenic sciatica”, “nerve root entrapment”, and “lumbosacral radicular syndrome”. So you’ll never hear good ‘ol uncle Marvin say, “Damn…I had to drive four hours today on vacation an my damn lumbosacral radicular syndrome was acting up!”.
Sciatica is not to be confused with basic lower back pain. Your everyday run-of-the-mill back pain usually originates from the spine, or the muscles around the base of your spine. Whereas sciatic pain orginates soley from your sciatic nerve which effects muscles in your lower legs, feet, and hamstrings.
Some of the very basic life activities will become painful if you are struggling with sciatica. Some sitting positions cause sciatic to flare up. Like driving a car, different chairs, poor posture choices, sleeping posistions, etc. If it’s bad enough, you can experience sciatica pain when you turn or twist your core, bend down/over, breathing, sneezing, laughing, or coughing.
Sciatic Pain: Main Causes
Sciatica pain is usually caused due to a herniated disc whereby the patient’s spine is out of position, or there as been an injury of some kind.
Car accidents, sport injuries, and on the job activities are common causes. Whenever there is a herniated disc (whether minor or extreme) there is a “bulge” in the disc tissue which results in a nerve root being somewhat compressed.
Your humble narrator was laid up in a bed for months healing from a herniated disc, and I can tell you from personal experience how painful it can be. There was almost NO escaping the pain, no matter what position I put my body in. It effects your sleep too, which slows down the healing process. It’s makes for a long an painful recovery.
If you are in the throes of a badly herniated disc, please understand that there is treatment for it, and eventually you WILL heal! Hang in there! Reading that sentence would have been a HUGE relief for me when I was going through it.
Of course there are other causes of sciatic pain. Piriformis syndrome, and lumbar stenosis are two examples of the top of my head.
Sciatica is is usually very easy for health care professionals (chiropractors/doctors) to diagnose.
The patient(s) will complain of pain and discomfort running down the back of their leg(s), and more often than not, they experience the pain only in specific settings or activities.
Then the doctor or chiropractor has to access how extreme the patient’s condition is, and that will set forth a plan for further investigation. The investigation might include advanced imaging equipment in more extreme cases, and if it’s just at the point of being mild irritation, the health care professionals can educate their patient(s) on posture, diet, sitting, bending, sleeping and other lifestyle choices.
If the sciatic pain is extreme and there is a full blown herniated disc situation, the patient may end up requiring surgery, such as spinal fusion. Read more on disc/spinal fusion here.
As mentioned above, depending on how extreme your sciatic pain is, there are different ways and extremes in treatment. In most minor cases the patient just needs to be educated on what sciatic is and how it’s caused.
Then they can begin changing (hopefully!) their lifestyle, or begin periodic treatments such physiotherapy, spinal manipulation (chiropractor), acupuncture, and an exercise plan. One of the BEST ways to help recover from typical sciatic is to lose weight and WALK!
Walking is the BEST way to overcome sciatica. Core muscle exercises are really good too, but you need to make sure you’re exercising PROPERLY so as not to make matters worse. Consult with your health care professional before starting any exercise program.
Depending on how extreme your sciatic nerve pain is, your health care professional(s) may suggest stretching your lower back muscles, stretching your hamstring muscles, taking daily walks, water exercise, swimming, core muscle exercise, laying down and pulling your knees up to your chest, ice and/or heat treatments, proper posture, proper bending, and proper lifting.
Sciatica prevention is unfortunately not common. A very small percentage of the population ever practices prevention, making most everyone susceptible to having a sciatica flare up at some time in their life.
Here is a short list of activities you can do for sciatic prevention:
walking of jogging weight lifting/training swimming bicycle riding dancing yoga Pilates tai chi sit ups squats
If you are suffering from sciatic you need to take matters into your own hands. The first step is educating yourself (if you’ve read this far in this post WAY TO GO!).
Then you should reach out your chiropractor, doctor, or physiotherapist. Whatever health care professional you decide to visit, make sure you explain them in accurate detail; your lifestyle, your home life, work life, and recreational life.
The good news is that in most cases patients overcome sciatica and go on to live a pain free life again. Below we’ve included a diagram showing some great stretching exercises you can do (carefully and easy does it – and only after you’ve consulted with your doctor and/or chiropractor first.
- double or single knee to chest
- hamstring stretch with towel
- gluteal stretch
- partial curl
- quadruped arm & leg raise
- quadratus lumborum stretch (QL stretch)
From everyone on our team here at Kingdom Chiropractic we wish a great 2020! Look after yourselves out there!