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Sciatica

Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot.
Common causes of sciatica include:

  • Slipped disk
  • Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)
  • Pelvic injury or fracture
  • Tumors


Symptoms

Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.

The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The pain or numbness may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.

The pain often starts slowly. Sciatica pain may get worse:

  • After standing or sitting
  • At night
  • When sneezing, coughing, or laughing
  • When bending backwards or walking more than a few yards, especially if caused by spinal stenosis


Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. This may show:

  • Weakness of knee bending or foot movement
  • Difficulty bending the foot inward or down
  • Abnormal or weak reflexes
  • Loss of sensation or numbness
  • Pain when lifting the leg straight up off the examining table


Massage

A massage not only helps relax the muscles in the back it can and loosen some of the muscles that are affected by the sciatic nerve. It helps circulation in the back, and if you suffer from chronic sciatic discomfort, massage is a good prevention.

Stretching
Stretching can offer good support for the back. Certain stretches for the sciatica can help release the tightness and relax the muscles. In addition, stretching is good prevention.

Topical Analgesic
Some people find relief in topical pain relievers. Many of the analgesics have menthol and which can help aid in blocking pain receptors and relax the tissues and muscles.

Hydrotherapy
Sitting in a hot Jacuzzi or whirlpool may enhance circulation and relax muscle tissue which in turn could help inflammation. Heat can aid with muscle spasm and inflammation and movements of the water can act as a gentle massage relaxing the back.

Our sense of touch is easily one of the strongest sensations in the body. People have used massage for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years through many different epochs of human history. Of course this means that massage therapy can indeed treat sciatica. However, you must know the appropriate pressure points to stimulate in order to have the optimum effect on relieving the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

To many people that have dealt with sciatica for a long time, lasting relief from the pain may seem like a pipe dream. Did you know that only one in five people are even aware that they have a medical condition? And once it is treated properly, they can experience real relief. Some folks out there will just seem to look the other way and hope that the sciatica goes away by itself. Others, just sadly accept that pain is “normal” and an expected part of getting older.
One of the primary causes of sciatica is poor posture and improper alignment of the spinal column. Keep in mind that the back is a very sensitive part of the body when you start any sort of massage therapy for sciatica pain.

Problems with the lower back muscles often relate back to posture. To fix this you most likely need to adjust the way you sit, walk, and even the way you stand up. If you don’t have good posture, you’re basically just inviting back problems into your life. Your muscles will adapt over time to how you hold yourself so bad posture may be difficult to break at first.

Physical therapy will usually consist of stretching exercises that relieve pressure from the lower back and give those over-stressed muscles a chance to rest. All this stretching and postural correction may take effort, but in the long run, it is much better than simply looking the other way, ignoring the root cause of the problem, and taking pain killers. This actually allows the physical tissue in the body to heal, whereas taking medication only removes the pain while your body still deteriorates in silences.

It is often not very difficult to do simple exercises to relieve sciatica. You really just have to follow a few basics movements that target the most sensitive areas. Though the stretching may be more intense and time consuming at first, once the pain is gone, your upkeep regimen is often much lighter and easier to do. If you’re experiencing relief, then keep doing what you’re doing because it is clearly working.

The next thing to do is to focus on improving your posture and how you hold yourself throughout the day. This will make your recovery even faster and much more lasting than any sort of quick-fix.

Exercise and massage can do a lot for easing any sort of sciatic pain you might be experiencing. But you still need to take better care of yourself in the days to come or else any relief you find will be short-lived.

Special Thanks to oncolinthera.com, and  the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.