A common description for sciatica is pain that radiates from the lower back, shooting through the buttocks, then travelling down the back of each leg. Sciatica is an indicator of an underlying medical condition, and it is not a diagnosis itself. Here are some further characteristics of sciatica:
- Chronic pain that is constantly present in one side of the buttock or leg (rarely it can be both)
- A sharp pain that makes standing up or walking difficult
- Pain that radiates down the leg and as far as the foot and toes in some cases. It is rarely only in the foot.
- Leg pain described as burning, searing, or tingling rather than a dull ache
- Pain that worsens when sitting
- Difficulty moving the leg, foot, or toes
- Weakness or numbness
The severity of the pain of sciatica can vary from constant and excruciating to intermittent and simply frustrating. The way the pain is expressed is a sign of where the pinching of the nerve is located. Thankfully, while sciatic nerve can be disruptive to your daily tasks, it is rarely ever a permanent issue.
The Relationship Between Sciatica and the Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, with a diameter the size of a finger. It also includes separate roots that branch out from the spine in the lower back. Sciatica occurs when this nerve gets pinched or irritated. Listed below is more information on the sciatic nerve:
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- Portions of the sciatic nerve branch out into each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg, such as the thigh, calf, foot, and toes.
- The sciatic nerve begins in the lower part of the back around the lumbar segment 3 (L3).
- At each level of the spine in the lower part of the back, nerve roots exit from inside the spinal canal then come together to form the large sciatic nerve.
Why Does Sciatica Happen?
Sciatica most commonly affects people in the middle age category (ages 40-50) and is rarely a problem for those below the age of 20. It affects nearly half of the population, with 43 percent experiencing it at one time or another. It tends to progress over time without any specific event responsible for its onset.
In most cases, sciatica will resolve itself over a few weeks, but in situations where this does not happen, it could last as long as several months. This can be extremely difficult when the pain is debilitating.
Ways to Calm Your Sciatica Pain
Here are several at-home remedies that may help you to ease up the pain of sciatica.
- Massage: Massaging the muscles in the back of the legs and the buttocks can help loosen them and decrease nerve inflammation. You could lie down on a tennis ball for a deeper effect or use a foam roller if you have one. Massage promotes good blood circulation and loosens tight muscles.
- Apply ice and then heat: Apply an ice pack first, in order to lower the nerve inflammation. Next, use a heating pad to calm tension in the muscles and help with blood flow.
- Stretching: It is such a good idea to stretch the muscles that may be pinching the sciatic nerve and causing you the discomfort. Stretching helps with flexibility and improves lower back support by increasing your core strength. This releases the pressure on the backs of the legs where the sciatic nerve runs.
- Back support aids: Long periods of time in a seated position can increase the pain of sciatica. If you must sit for work, it is highly recommended that you invest in a chair with proper back support and a balanced surface to encourage good posture and reduce the pressure on the lower back.
- Hydrotherapy: Soaking your sore body in a warm bath or jacuzzi can help loosen those stiff muscles and calm inflammation. It will assist with circulation and soothe nerve irritation.
Soothing the Pain of Sciatica with Natural Treatment
It is becoming more and more common for sciatica sufferers to seek out an alternative pain relief option that is natural, such as upper cervical chiropractic care. This may seem like a strange way of treating an issue that is located in the lower back, since these types of chiropractors specialize in the uppermost vertebrae of the spine. We’d like to explain how this works and why it has been so successful.
When a misalignment happens in the top two vertebrae of the spine, called the atlas and the axis, it creates a domino effect of compensations that run all the way down the spine. Considering that these bones are responsible for balancing the weight of the head, an imbalance here can put an excessive amount of stress on the rest of the back, affecting the posture and even resulting in one leg being shorter than the other. Over time, this can develop into irritations of the nerves located within the bones of the spine, including the sciatic nerve. It does not take more than a slight misalignment to encounter these sorts of complications in the long run.
Upper cervical chiropractors use a gentle method, without the need to do any forceful adjustments that causes popping or cracking sounds. Instead, our adjustments are based on scientific measurements and a small amount of gentle pressure to a specific area of the neck. This kind of adjustment is effective at helping the bones return to their proper positions. Correcting the misalignment initiates the body’s natural healing ability to restore any damaged tissues caused by the misalignment. Our patients who come in for sciatica pain often experience dramatic results and even complete disappearance of their symptoms through our treatment.
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