How Is Sciatica Treated
The goal of treatment is to decrease your pain and increase your mobility. Depending on the cause, many cases of sciatica go away over time with some simple self-care treatments.
Self-care treatments include:
- Appling ice and/or hot packs: First, use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice packs or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to the affected area. Apply for 20 minutes, several times a day. Switch to a hot pack or a heating pad after the first several days. Apply for 20 minutes at a time. If youre still in pain, switch between hot and cold packs whichever best relieves your discomfort.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines: Take medicines to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. The many common over-the-counter medicines in this category, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen . Be watchful if you choose to take aspirin. Aspirin can cause ulcers and bleeding in some people. If youre unable to take NSAIDS, acetaminophen may be taken instead.
- Performing gentle stretches: Learn proper stretches from an instructor with experience with low back pain. Work up to other general strengthening, core muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises.
Most Common Causes Of Hip And Leg Pain
Hip and leg pain can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, but some of the most common causes are related to spinal disc pathology, risk factors, a sedentary lifestyle, and psychological conditions. The type of pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, sharp stabs and other sensations.
Spinal disc pathology is the most common cause of hip and leg pain. Anything from excess weight strain on the hips to spinal disc space degeneration with age can cause enough stress that it may manifest itself as hip and leg pain radiating down the legs.
Disc bulges or herniations occur when theres too much pressure in the disc space, which can irritate large nerves and cause pain that travels down the legs. Poor posture during work or leisure activities as well as a sedentary lifestyle in older age individuals increases the risk for potential hip and leg problems.
Additionally, psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or trauma may also contribute to an individuals computer-related maladies reminiscent of hip and leg pains on one side only with very little in terms of certain body positions.
With any type of hip or leg pain, its important to first get checked by your health care provider or doctor for an accurate diagnosis so appropriate measures can be taken as soon as possible to reduce discomfort levels caused by intense hip or leg pains radiating down into ones legs near the knee area.
How It Can Be Diagnosed
Since piriformis syndrome resembles almost all the symptoms with spinal disc herniation aka slipped disc misdiagnosis is unfortunately very common.
Diagnosis is very important in order to achieve complete cure and pain relief. Your physiotherapist may do few maneuvers stressing the muscles thus irritating the compressed sciatic nerve which exacerbates the pain or provokes the similar symptoms.
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Questions For Your Doctor
- What is the likely cause of my pain?
- Do I need any tests to confirm piriformis syndrome?
- Is it safe for me to exercise? What kind of exercise should I do?
- Will alternative therapies such as yoga or massage help relieve my pain? Do I need to take any medicine?
- What should I do if my pain doesnt go away?
Commit To A Progressive Exercise Program For Long
When your doctor gives you the go ahead, make sure to make a focused effort to follow through with a controlled and progressive exercise program. Without it, your symptoms are likely to return and get worse over time.
There are many options to help provide enough pain relief for you to engage in exercise and physical therapy, such as use of ice and heat, pain medications, and possibly an epidural steroid injection. Physical therapists and spine specialists can tailor a pain relief treatment to make exercise tolerable.
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When Should You See A Doctor For Sciatica Pain
If you are having pain for just a couple of days, its probably fine to hold off and wait and see. But call the doctor if the pain is interfering with your lifestyle or if you have any neurological deficits such as weakness or numbness, Dr. Johnson says. If the pain is interfering with your lifestyle, you should see a doctor, he says.
Another reason to see a doctor right away is if you lose control of your bladder or bowels. This could happen because of a serious condition affecting the nerves at the end of the spinal cord called cauda equina syndrome. so its best to go to the hospital. And if you experience sudden severe pain from trauma such as a all or a car accident, dont wait on calling your doctor.²It makes sense to see your primary care doctor first. If the pain does not improve with time, you probably will be referred to a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic spine surgeon, who may begin a workup by ordering X-rays or an MRI, Dr. Johnson says.
Key Points About Sciatica
Sciatica most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
It is pain that starts along your sciatic nerve and spreads down your buttock and the back of 1 thigh.
It is usually caused by a herniated disk in your spine that presses on your sciatic nerve.
Sciatica usually heals on its own with rest and time.
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How To Avoid Or Prevent Sciatic Nerve Pain
Because the majority of risk factors associated with sciatic nerve pain can be ameliorated by dedicated patients, one encouraging thought is that you have a fair bit of control over avoiding or preventing it. First steps involve losing weight, ceasing smoking, and modifying heavy lifting at work. For instance, if your job requires you to shift bulky objects, make sure that you are using correct form and consider wearing supportive bracing. Similarly, embarking on a smoking cessation program will not only help with any sciatic nerve pain, it will also improve your health in general. Finally, carrying too much weight can lead to all sorts of back problems, not just sciatica. Also, remaining physically active is one of the best sciatic pain treatments available.
What Complications Are Associated With Sciatica
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a drop foot, might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
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What Are The Risk Factors
You might think that older adults are the most at-risk demographic for developing sciatic pain symptoms. Its true that underlying conditions such as spinal stenosis tend to affect those 50 years old and up. But thats not the primary age group that ends up dealing with sciatica. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains, You are most likely to get sciatica between the ages of 30 and 50 years. It may happen as a result of the general wear and tear of aging, plus any sudden pressure on the disks that cushion the bones of your lower spine.
Indeed, the nature of sciatica pain which basically always involves some pressure on or damage to the sciatic nerve means a wide range of individuals may have to face it. Some may find it surprising to learn that pregnant women often develop sciatic nerve pain when the uterus presses against the sciatic nerve. So while increasing age does play a role, its far from the only one.
Do I Have Sciatica Here Are 5 Ways To Tell
With so many possible causes of sciatica and so many other conditions that can easily masquerade as sciatica, is there ever a way to know for sure? How can you definitively determine if your pain is sciatica or not?
The most definitive way is to visit your doctor and receive an official diagnosis. However if youre just looking to get an idea for yourself before you visit your doctor, here is a guide to help you determine if you are truly experiencing sciatica.
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Pain Running Down The Leg
A common symptom of sciatica is radiating/spreading pain running down the leg. However, the leg pain could be something to do with the blood vessels. If the pain travels from the low back to the hip, through the buttocks, down the leg, and into the foot, then more than likely it is sciatica. However, sciatica is just one condition that causes leg pain other causes of leg pain include:
- All can irritate the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.
The vascular system, also called the circulatory system, comprises the vessels that circulate blood and lymph throughout the body. Problems with the vascular system are a less common cause of leg pain but can be severe. Therefore, it is vital to learn to tell the difference.
How To Tell If Your Sciatica Is Actually Piriformis Syndrome
Is your sciatica acting up, or do you have piriformis syndrome? You may be surprised at just how much these conditions get confused with one another. If you have chronic pain that radiates through your buttocks and lower back, it could mean that youre living with piriformis syndrome. Its not uncommon for these two conditions to be mistaken for each other. However, learning if you have piriformis syndrome can help you get on the right path for recovery. Lets take a closer look at understanding the difference between these conditions and what you can do about it.
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Is The Weight Of Pregnancy The Reason Why So Many Pregnant Women Get Sciatica
Its true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The babys weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.
The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.
How To Stop Hip Pain That Travels Down The Leg
Hip pain that radiates down the leg is a common complaint for people of all ages. Fortunately, with some lifestyle changes and improved posture, the most severe effects of hip pain can be mitigated. Taking an honest look at overall activity levels, diet, and lifestyle habits can help identify potential risk factors and help start the journey to eliminating pain.
One of the most important risk factors for developing hip pain is excess weight. Being overweight can cause asymmetrical pressure on joints, which leads to increased chances of developing joint damage over time. Those with a sedentary lifestyle should consider cutting back on long periods of sitting and smoking cessation programs if applicable as nicotine decreases blood flow which puts added strain on sensitive tissues around the hip area.
Another cause could be muscle weakness in core muscles that fail to support good posture and bio-mechanics over time leading to hip problems similar to spinal pathology associated with lower back pain areas. If you suspect this is contributing factor there are many ways to improve core strength such as swimming or activities like Pilates and yoga require excellent form while exercising safely in larger groups or with a personal trainer.
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Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis
Stenosis means narrowing, and lumbar spinal canal stenosis is narrowing of the space available for nerves in the lumbar spine. Narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal can put pressure on the nerves, which may cause back pain, pain down the sciatic nerve, numbness and weakness of the legs.
If you have lumbar spinal canal stenosis you may have no symptoms. Or you may have low back pain that radiates to the buttocks and legs, or just leg pain. The pain often occurs when you stand or walk. Spinal stenosis tends to affect older people rather than younger people.
What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like
People describe sciatica pain in different ways, depending on its cause. Some people describe the pain as sharp, shooting, or jolts of pain. Others describe this pain as burning, “electric or stabbing.
The pain may be constant or may come and go. Also, the pain is usually more severe in your leg compared to your lower back. The pain may feel worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time, when you stand up and when your twist your upper body. A forced and sudden body movement, like a cough or sneeze, can also make the pain worse.
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What Is A Nerve Block For Sciatica
Noninvasive, traditional treatments like NSAIDs, targeted exercise, and heat and cold therapy successfully treat most cases of sciatica. For people with unrelenting symptoms despite traditional , a sciatic nerve block may offer significant relief.
The purpose of a sciatic nerve blockis to stop the transmission of pain signals from the sciatic nerve, thereby reducing or eliminating the pain.
The procedure involves injecting an anesthetic and a steroid into the nerve bundles responsible for the pain. The steroid reduces inflammation, and the anesthetic prevents nerve impulses from reaching the central nervous system .
If you are experiencing debilitating sciatica, a sciatic nerve block could be beneficial for multiple reasons. If the procedure is successful, you could delay the need for surgery or avoid it altogether. It can also provide valuable diagnostic information that helps your spine specialist determine the exact nerve fibers contributing to your .
Is Surgery Necessary For Sciatica
If, despite doing everything one is instructed to do, the pain continues and the CT or MRI shows a problem with the disc or bone, back surgery may be recommended. Back surgery is generally performed for patients who have tried all other methods of treatment first.
There are exceptions to this, such as people with ongoing nerve damage or cauda equina syndrome.
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Identifying A Pinched Nerve In Buttocks
It can be hard to tell where the pain in your buttocks originates to trace it back to the sciatic nerve or other causes. For this reason, the best way to determine the cause of your pain is to visit a doctor who can perform a physical exam and imaging such as MRIs to identify the impacted nerve.
Another reason it can be difficult to identify the source of your pain is that many people experience sciatic pain in different ways. Some will feel a tingling sensation, similar to a limb being asleep and numbness that runs down the legs. Others may experience weakness in the legs, pain that radiates down the legs, or simply a deep pain in the buttock. Sitting for long periods of exercise can exacerbate the pain in many cases.
If I Dont Have Sciatica What Do I Have
One of the reasons that it can be difficult to tell if a person is truly experiencing sciatica is that many other types of pain can mimic sciatica. As someone trying to self-diagnose, you may find it difficult to tell if your pain is truly sciatic in nature or if its simply lower back pain.
Here are some of the most common problems that can cause sciatica-like symptoms.
Help I Have Pain In My Buttock That Radiates Down My Leg Could It Be Sciatica Or A Gluteus Medius Tear
Do you have pain in your buttock that radiates down your leg? You might have sciatica, which is pain that comes from the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from your lower back to your legs. Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. You might have a gluteus medius tear if you have pain in your hip that radiates down your leg. This muscle is located in the buttocks. It helps to stabilize the hip joint. A tear in this muscle is often caused by overuse, such as from running or playing tennis. If you have pain in your lower back, buttock, or legs, it can be hard to tell if its sciatica or a gluteus medius tear. Here are some things to look for: Sciatica usually affects only one side of your body. The pain from sciatica is often a sharp, shooting pain that radiates down your leg. The pain from a gluteus medius tear is often a dull, aching pain that radiates from your hip to your leg. If youre not sure whats causing your pain, see your doctor. They can help you get the treatment you need.