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What is Sciatica?

  • 7th January 2010 |
  • Author: Iris

Sciatica is referred to as a medical condition but really is a symptom of another underlying condition, i.e., spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, or another back problem. Sciatica most commonly affects people between the age of 30 and 50 but can flare up at any time.

Narrowing of the spinal canal is a condition called “spinal stenosis”. When the spinal cord and the nerves inside are compressed or squeezed, you get sciatica.

When you suffer from a herniated disc, the disc loses fluid and flexibility or is compressed. When the discs are compressed, the pressure on the sciatic nerve roots causes pain.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine whereby there is sliding or slippage (forward or backward) of a disc or vertebra relative to the next disc or vertebra. Where there is slippage, there is narrowing of the spinal canal or compression of the existing nerve roots which causes pain.

Piriformis syndrome involves the piriformis muscle, which is one of the small muscles found deep in the buttocks. It rotates the leg outwards and runs from the base of the spine and attaches to the femur. The sciatic nerve runs very close to this muscle and sometimes it even runs through the muscle. It the muscle becomes tight or contracts, it puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and causes pain.

Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica symptoms are:

• Tingling or numbness in one or both legs
• Weakness in one or both legs
• An electrifying or radiating pain down the leg
• Sharp or shooting pain in the buttock
• Radiating pain that moves down the leg and/or into the foot
• Reduced range of motion
• Loss of control of bowel or bladder function

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor or seek the advice of a medical professional.  Sciatica can lead to permanent nerve damage.

Decreasing the pain and increasing mobility can be achieved with proper treatment.  Treatment most often includes limited bed rest, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, physical therapy, spinal injections, and surgery.

Alternative treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, Pilates, massage, and biofeedback may also provide pain relief and increase mobility.

Sciatica may be prevented by practicing good posture; lifting heavy objects properly, engaging in aerobic exercises like walking and swimming, maintaining a healthy body weight, strengthening and stretching the abs and back muscles, and sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees.

Getting the mind and body fit and well should be the goal for overcoming sciatica. Get rid of your back pain and sciatica by implementing some of these treatments and preventative measures..

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