Sciatica is a problem with the sciatic nerves which are the body's largest nerves. They measure about the size of the little finger. This condition is characterized by low back pain accompanied by pain in the buttock and leg. The pain in the leg doesn't just stay there. It can travel down to the foot and make walking difficult. Sciatica can also weaken the leg muscles.
The pain felt with this condition is usually like an electronic jolt. It can also be a burning or tingling sensation like when your leg becomes numb. Sometimes, the pain is mild and only annoying, but sometimes it's unbearable.
This condition is due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. It is not usually a result of an injury.
Instead, the irritation can happen after lifting a heavy object or after moving too quickly.
Other causes of sciatica include:
- herniated disc or slipped disc
- spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal cord canal
- spondylolisthesis (forward slip of one backbone over another)
- pinched or stretched sciatic nerve
- piriformis syndrome (trapping of sciatic nerve in the buttock)
- blood clot
Pain is the most common symptom of problem with the sciatica nerve. The pain usually starts from one side of the back then travels down to the buttock and leg. In some cases, it is also felt in the hips. Prolonged sitting and standing as well as sneezing, laughing, coughing and straining over hard bowel can also worsen the pain. Weakness of the leg and foot accompanies the pain.
Pain Reduction Techniques
Here are some ways to reduce your pain if you're suffering from this type of condition:
• Avoid bending and lifting objects. Don't sit in soft or low chairs. Doing these things can aggravate your pain.
• Take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (Bufferin or Bayer Aspirin), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB). But ask your doctor first if you have allergies or if you take other medications that are not compatible. One example is Coumadin, a blood thinner.
• Apply cold pack on the painful area. If you don't have cold compress at home, a large bag of frozen vegetables can be a good alternative to ease the pain.
• Ask another person to massage you with an ice cube over the painful area. Just don't have the ice cube exposed to a certain area too long.
• Try using a heating pad. After you're done with the cool compress, take a break for a while before applying a heating pad. Make sure you don't sleep with a heating pad on your back as this can leave a bad burn.
• Lie down on a firm surface. Place pillows under your knees. Another viable sleeping position would be lying on the side. Put a pillow between your knees. This would help keep your back straight. You can also make use of a recliner chair.
• Do light physical activities. Lying down the whole day won't make you feel better. It can only worsen your condition.