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Is Chronic Low Back Pain Leaving You Numb?

  • 15th November 2009 |
  • Author: Iris

Are you experiencing weakness, tingling, or an electrifying pain in one or both legs? Are you suffering from a pain that begins in your back or buttock and moves down the back of your leg and/or into your foot? Do you have intense pain radiating down your leg? sciatica Are you experiencing numbness in one or both legs? These pains and sensations may indicate symptoms of sciatica (pronounced “sigh-AT-ih-ka”). The sciatic nerve is found in the spinal column. The spine consists of a series of individual bones (the vertebrae) which are separated by discs that look like checkers in size and shape. These discs are cushioned by a gel-like substance that acts like a shock absorber when we move, bend or lift. When the disc loses fluid and flexibility, or is compressed and puts pressure on the spinal cord or the sciatic nerve roots, it causes pain.

Sciatica most commonly affects people between the age of 30 and 50. It can begin suddenly due to a traumatic event or it can develop slowly over time as a result of wear and tear of the lower back. Stress and tension on the muscles in the legs and buttocks can also cause it. In approximately 90 percent of sciatica cases, the cause is a herniated disc. However, sciatica can also be caused by other things, including spinal stenosis, fracture, infection, tumor, cyst, or degeneration of the sciatic nerve.

Having suffered from sciatica myself for several years because of a herniated disc, I know, first-hand, how debilitating it can be. I get an electrifying or a burning pain that radiates down my left leg. I also get shooting pains in my left buttock which usually occurs when I’m sitting on a low sofa or chair and attempting to get up or shift positions. Standing for more than 15 minutes is difficult for me and will bring on sciatic pain. Because the pain is usually so excruciating, I have to immediately sit down or squat to get some relief.

Chronic low back pain and sciatica is usually caused by a sudden traumatic event or manifests over time. There are some not-so-obvious factors that contribute to sciatica:

• Obesity
• Diabetes
• Weight gain during pregnancy
• Poor posture
• Prolonged sitting
• Occupation
• Poor sleeping position
• Poor quality mattress
• Smoking
• Stress

For most people, sciatica responds well to self-care measures that include:

• Stretching
• Exercise
• Cold and hot packs
• Over-the-counter medications
• Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Unit
• Bed rest
• Meditation
• Yoga

If chronic low back pain or sciatica symptoms continue to persist or worsen, home treatment may not be enough. Advice from a medical professional or doctor should be sought. Your doctor may recommend some conservative measures, such as:

• Prescription medications
• Physical therapy
• Spinal decompression therapy

When conservative measures do not alleviate the pain within several months, your doctor may recommend:

• Epidural steroid injections
• Surgery

Complementary and alternative medical treatments found outside conventional medicine that may alleviate the pain are:

• Acupuncture
• Chiropractic treatments
• Massage
• Hypnosis
• Botox injections

Although most people recover fully from sciatica, often without any specific treatment, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Other complications may occur, depending on what’s causing the nerve to be compressed. These complications may include:

• Numbness or loss of feeling in the affected leg
• Loss of movement in the affected leg
• Loss of bladder and bowel function

Chronic low back pain and sciatic nerve pain may be severe and persist for a prolonged period of time. Healthy back maintenance is extremely important. If you suffer from chronic low back pain or sciatica, feel free to share what has or hasn’t worked for you in the comments below so we can all improve our health. .


  1. Patrenia says:

    My husband just had an accident about a week ago and has been having a terrible back pain. Do you think this is something that can linger?

  2. Iris says:

    Hi, Patrenia!

    Welcome to my blog!

    In regards to your husband’s terrible back pain brought on by an accident, pain is the body’s way of saying that something is wrong or out of balance. Depending on the impact, if it was an auto accident, your husband may have sustained some injuries to his spine or muscles in his back.

    I would advise him to see a medical doctor who can evaluate him and/or take some x-rays or an MRI to diagnose the source of the pain. However, most doctors tend to focus on treating the symptoms. Their solution is usually to prescribe pain medication which only temporarily reduces pain but does not eliminate it. There are other alternative solutions and treatments available.

    I will be blogging on ways to eliminate back pain without drugs. So, subscribe to my blog and my newsletter so you will receive these solutions in your e-mailbox as soon as they are published.


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