The term sciatica is primarily used to denote pain caused by some type of sciatic nerve irritation. The pain is usually sudden and can radiate down the back into the hip, leg and even the foot. Sciatica is not a traditional condition. It’s the symptom of whatever condition or injury is causing your sciatic nerve irritation.
Sciatic pain can be severe causing numbness, muscle spams and limited mobility. At its peak, sciatica may cause laughing and sneezing to be painful.
On average, sciatica lasts between four and six weeks, but for some people it may last longer and even become a chronic condition.
If you experience persistent sciatica for more than six weeks, it is important that you learn the potential reasons behind your lingering pain and what you can do to heal and prevent future spells from recurring.
Causes of Sciatica
- Herniated Disc
- Underlying Health Conditions
- Spinal Cancer
- Wear and Tear
Many people experience sciatica due to lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise, poor nutrition and obesity. However, people with healthy lifestyles are not immune to sciatica.
Scoliosis occurs when your spine is not properly aligned. Prolonged misalignment can cause discs to protrude beyond the axis of the spine and press on the nerve roots, causing pain. Depending on the severity of the scoliosis, an individual might need physical therapy or even surgery to improve their condition.
A herniated disc of the lower spine is one of the most common causes of sciatica. An injury may precede the condition and trigger sciatica pain, but herniated discs are most often caused by wear, lifestyle factors or genetics.
Underlying Health Conditions
People in good health recover from sciatica more quickly that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Individuals with certain risk factors may discover that their sciatica worsens, reoccurs or becomes chronic. These factors include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Seeking medical treatment for these conditions and making healthy lifestyle choices can potentially alleviate sciatic nerve pain, reduce the chance for the reoccurrence of sciatica and improve your overall health.
In rare and severe cases, a mass in or around the spine may pressure the nerves causing sciatic pain.
While some masses are benign, others can be cancerous. If your sciatica is not going away, it is important to see a doctor who can rule out potentially life-threatening conditions like cancer.
An untreated or overlooked infection in or around the spine can cause a swollen mass to develop. Localized swelling and inflammation can put painful pressure on nerves. If sciatica is accompanied by pain in other parts of the body and a persistent fever, an underlying infection may be the root cause of the issue.
Wear and Tear
Unfortunately, aging is inevitable and causes wear and tear to the spine. Spine issues related to aging and wear and tear, including things like herniated discs or bone spurs, can cause the sciatic nerve to become pinched or irritated.
As the natural cushioning and lubrication of the spine deteriorates, it becomes progressively susceptible to chronic and worsening pain, such as sciatic pain.
How to Treat Sciatica
- Over-the-Counter Pain Killers
- Gentle Stretching and Exercise
Experiment with hot packs and heating pads. You can apply them to the sore areas for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day. The heat from the pack stimulates blood flow and relaxes the injured area.
Like hot packs, ice packs or cold compresses can bring relief to localized pain. Apply them for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day.
Over-the-Counter Pain Killers
Anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or aspirin, can make your pain more manageable in part by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Gentle Stretching and Exercise
Exercise can help you stretch and release the tightness in your muscles. Low-impact aerobics like swimming or walking, combined with gentle stretching, can help alleviate sciatic pain and maintain a healthy body weight.
To prevent injury or the worsening of your condition, try working out under the supervision of a physical therapist.
Contact Optimum Health Rehab for Effective Sciatic Pain Solutions
Our Georgia-based physical rehabilitation experts can help you relieve your sciatica pain.
If you pain persists, despite home remedies and exercise, you might need a more in-depth and comprehensive analysis and treatment of your condition.
Our team at Optimum Health Rehab offers medical expertise, diagnostic tools, physical therapy, hot and cold therapy and more. All these components help us devise personal pain management solutions customized for each patient’s unique needs.Chiropractic