Have you ever experienced pain that comes from your lower back and travels down to your legs? This can be sciatica. With sciatica, you may feel some weakness, numbness, as well as tingling in the lower half of your body.
Sciatica in itself isn’t a medical condition. It is actually a symptom of another medical condition which causes the pain. Some of these conditions include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, or lumbar herniated disc.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Here are the common symptoms of sciatica that you may be experiencing:
• Radiating pain from the leg to the foot and toes. It occurs rarely on just the foot itself.
• Sharp pain making it a challenge for you to walk or even just stand.
• Numbness or weakness in moving your leg and foot as well as toes.
• Pain in the leg that feels more than a dull ache but is searing, tingling, or burning.
• It is painful to sit down
• Pain in just one side of your leg or buttock. The pain is rarely felt in both of your legs at once.
The pain you feel from sciatica can be varied. It can be infrequent or constant. The sciatic pain depends on where the pinched nerve is located. The symptoms of sciatica can be extremely bad. However, you don’t have to worry about resulting tissue damage as it is rare. Even the involvement of the spinal cord is rare as well although still possible.
What is the Sciatic Nerve?
This nerve is the body’s biggest single nerve. It is composed of single nerve roots that begin to branch out from your spine. From the lower back, it then combines, forming the sciatic nerve. The symptoms of sciatica emerge when this big nerve becomes irritated or even compressed somewhere near the point of its origin.
Here’s what you should know about the sciatic nerve:
•Your sciatic nerve begins in your lower back which is typically at the L3 or lumbar segment 3.
•At each of your lower spine’s level, there is a nerve root which exits from the spinal canal. Each of the roots joins together forming the sciatic nerve.
•The sciatic nerve then flows from your lower back to the buttocks and then at the back of each of your legs.
•Parts of the nerve also branch out in your legs to other areas including the toes, foot, calf, and thigh.
Treatments for Sciatica
Constant pain because of sciatica should be treated so that it will not worsen over time. There are numerous nonsurgical remedies that you can apply to relieve the pain. However, there may be those who are experiencing severe pain that does not go away. In this case, then surgery may be considered. Let’s take a look at the treatments for sciatica that does not involve surgery.
With nonsurgical treatments for sciatica, the goal is to take away as much pain as possible, including neurological symptoms brought about by the irritated nerve root. Here are some of the remedies.
Hot or Cold Compress
To temporarily relieve the sciatica pain, you can apply either a hot or cold compress. Apply it for about twenty minutes, and then you can repeat it for every couple of hours. Many may opt for a cold compress first but find that they get more relief with the hot compress. You can alternate these two if you want. Remember to place a towel between the cold compress and your skin so that you won’t get any ice burn.
Taking Pain Meds
You can go for over the counter medications or ask your doctor for a prescription if you need something stronger. Naproxen and ibuprofen are often the go-to meds for this kind of pain. Also, oral steroids can also help in reducing the inflammation causing the pain. There are also muscle relaxants that your doctor can prescribe to alleviate the pain, but you can only take it for a few days up to about two weeks.
Epidural Steroid Injection
For severe pain, this injection can be considered as it can help in reducing the inflammation. This is different from taking oral meds because the injection is directed to the pain area surrounding the sciatic nerve. You can experience relief from an epidural steroid injection for a range of a week to even a year. However, this may not be effective for everyone. But for those who find relief from this treatment, it’s a good time to start or continue with an exercise or conditioning program to address the sciatic nerve issue.
These are just some of the many treatments of sciatica. Do talk to your doctor if you feel that none of these remedies help in making the pain go away. The doctor will advise you if surgery becomes necessary to treat sciatica. Also, there are various exercises that can help you in this situation but before getting into any program, ask for the recommendation of your doctor so that you know you’re not making your condition worse. If you have any experience in a good remedy for sciatica, feel free to share in the comments so that others with sciatica may benefit from it.
Dr. Tymothy L. Flory graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri. Before opening Atlas Brain Spine, Dr. Flory practiced Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Flory completed Board Certification of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association in 2012 and is currently a Credentialed Instructor for the organization.