Many times you get a pain running down our legs you are told you have sciatica but what exactly is sciatica. Is it something that happens suddenly or does it happen over time? What causes sciatica and what are the treatment options? The truth is 49 -70% of people experience low back pain at some time in their life and about 10% of them have sciatica. So, you’re not alone when you ask these questions.
Here are some truths about sciatica that can answer the questions above.
Truth 1 Sciatica is a set of symptoms
Sciatica (pronounced sigh-AT-eh-ka) is the name given to a set of symptoms including pain, weakness, or numbness in the lower back, buttocks or leg and a burning or tingling sensation down the leg.
Truth 2 Sciatica is the result of a compressed nerve
There are three main causes of sciatica:
- When the nerve root of the lumber spine (L4 or L5) is squashed (compressed)
- When the sacral nerve roots are compressed (S1, S2 or S3)
- When the sciatic nerve is compressed
One of the most common conditions associated with sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve) is a herniated disc. Piriformis syndrome, spondylolisthesis, lumbar degenerative disc disease, bone spurs, lumbar spinal stenosis or spinal tumors can all result in sciatica.
Truth 3 Sciatica can run down both legs
Sciatica can feel like a burning, tingling or prickly pain. It can run from the lower back, down the back of the leg and into the feet and toes. Sometimes sciatica runs down both legs although it is usually felt mainly on the left side of the body.
Truth 4 Sciatica pain feels different to different people
Sciatica pain can feel mild and irritating to some whilst other people can experience it as a severe debilitating pain. The former may experience the pain on an intermittent basis. People experience sciatica pain differently depending on where the nerve is compressed.
Truth 5 Exercise can help relieve sciatica
Treatment for sciatica generally includes medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery. Advances in research have shown that stretching exercises can relieve sciatica pain considerably. These exercises when used together with strengthening exercises can give sciatica sufferers the long-term relief they have longed for, literally giving them their life back.
Sciatica is not an illness in itself it is a term that refers to a set of symptoms. The pain feels like it is happening suddenly but the compression of the sciatic nerve (which causes sciatica pain) has been happening over a period of time.
Sciatica pain can feel like a burning, tingling or prickly pain which runs from the lower back, down the legs and into the toes or foot. It usually runs down one leg but it can run down both legs. For some people the pain is unbearable and constant whilst others experience it as intermittent and irritating.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can relieve sciatica pain giving sciatica sufferers back their life.
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Wishing you good health.