Sciatic nerve pain is an issue that can be so debilitating and excruciating to those that experience it, that it is difficult to stand up, move around, or take part in regular daily activities. In some cases, this problem occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched by an overgrowth of bone, or a herniated disc, but it can also happen because of injury, a narrowing of the spinal canal, or even as the result of a disease like diabetes.
Because sciatic nerve pain has grown into such a common condition across the United States, many people frequently find themselves searching for ways to manage or overcome the pain. However, before you can properly understand the treatment, and lifestyle changes that could make a difference to your condition, it's crucial to understand what sciatic nerve pain actually is, and how you can recognize it.
Diagnosing Sciatic Nerve Pain
Pain that radiates from the lumbar part of the spine into the buttock and through the back of your leg is one of the most common hallmark sciences of sciatica. Although sciatic nerve pain can occur almost anywhere across the pathway of a given nerve, it's particularly likely to impact the areas around your lower back, thigh, and calf muscles. People frequently have trouble defining this condition, as the type of pain experienced can be very different. Some people notice a mild ache, while others are concerned with a constant burning sensation or excruciating pain. Some common symptoms include:
- Constant pain that occurs in only one leg or side of the buttock. Sciatic nerve pain typically doesn't happen in both legs at once.
- Worsened pain when you sit down - particularly for longer periods of time. Some people also find that the pain is worse when they sneeze or cough.
- Searing, burning, or tingling leg pain - in some cases, patients have described the discomfort as a feeling of numbness or muscle weakness.
- Sharp pain which occurs when you attempt to walk or stand up.
Are You at Risk of Sciatic Nerve Pain?
While this condition can affect almost anyone, there are certain risk factors involved that may increase your chances of suffering with sciatica. For instance, the problem rarely takes place in younger people within their twenties. Age naturally leads to changes in the formulation of the spine, which can result in issues like bone spurs and herniated disks. Because of these changes, sciatic nerve pain happens most in people who are in middle-age, or around the age of fifty. Other risk factors typically associated with sciatic nerve pain include:
- Diabetes - This condition changes the way the body uses blood sugar, which can also have an impact on your risk of suffering from nerve damage.
- Prolonged sitting - People who live a particularly sedentary lifestyle, or sit for long periods at work or at home may find that they are more likely to develop sciatica than active people.
- Occupation - Jobs that require you to frequently carry heavy items, twist your back, or drive a vehicle for extended periods of time are sometimes considered to play a role in the development of sciatic nerve pain - but the evidence of this issue has yet to be confirmed.
- Obesity - The more stress you place on your spine through excess body weight, the more you can suffer from spinal changes that contribute to sciatica.
Treating and Managing Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain often improves and goes away naturally over time, without the need for external treatment. Often, patients are encouraged to manage the problem themselves using compression, medicines, and exercises to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, for some people, the issue of sciatica can be far more long-lasting, which leads to an enhanced need for a solution.
If you find that your sciatic nerve pain persists after a number of weeks, then you will have some options to consider. In some cases, unbearable pain is treat through surgery - although this is generally a last-case scenario for those involved. Alternatively, methods such treatment from a chiropractor, therapy, and injections might be used.
When it comes to what you can do in dealing with sciatic nerve pain, the most important thing to remember is that, although bed rest can be useful for some injuries, exercise is essential for recovery from sciatica. While the initial flare-up, which often lasts a day or two, can be too significant to allow for proper exercise, after this time you should be looking for ways to incorporate more movement into your routine. The avoidance of physical activity might lead to further pain, and additional problems in the future.
Speak to your doctor, but try to focus on proper exercise for the lower-back muscles and legs wherever possible, so that you can strengthen the foundation that supports the spine, and keep the range of motion in your hamstrings as wide as possible.
Always Consult Your Doctor
Although the above information can be useful in helping you to better understand sciatic nerve pain, bear in mind that you should never undergo any self-treatment without the go-ahead of a professional health expert. Because sciatica relates to the spine, it can quickly become a debilitating condition if it is treat incorrectly, which means that consulting a therapist, chiropractor, or doctor is the best way to avoid additional injury.
A health professional should be able to give you an insight into whether you are actually suffering from sciatic nerve pain to begin with, as well as what you can do to treat the condition. What's more, these professionals will be able to determine whether you need further intervention in the form of treatment that you cannot complete yourself.
Though sciatic nerve pain can be overcome in a matter of weeks when properly addressed, improper treatment can exacerbate the problem into one that lasts for months, and prevents you from living your life as you normally would.