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Sciatica Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Exercise

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Sciatica

Sciatica is a common pain that affects the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a big nerve, which extends from your lower back to the back of your legs.

Sciatica

Sciatica symptoms

There are several common symptoms of sciatica show up, which makes it easier for diagnosing the problem by the doctors-

  • Pain in the rear
  • Pain in the leg that worsens after sitting
  • Burning sensation or tingling on the leg
  • Numbness, weakness, or difficulty in moving the feet
  • A continuous pain on one side of the rear
  • A severe pain that makes you unable to stand up

In general, sciatica attacks the lower body and only one side of it. The pain may extend from the lower back to the leg. Patients may also feel pain in the back of the thigh. Sometimes, the pain may also reach the foot or toes. Some patients experience severe pain because of sciatica. Some other patients may feel infrequent and irritating pain.

If you experience gradually worsening lower body weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness in your upper thighs, then you should immediately see a doctor.

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Sciatica Treatments

In sciatica treatment, nonsurgical methods and regular exercise can relieve the pain.  However, if the pain is severe and the nonsurgical methods do not help, then a different treatment approach and surgery may be necessary for providing relief to the patient and to minimize the possible future pain and health complications.

Non-surgical treatments

Nonsurgical treatments for sciatica offers different options with the objective of offering relief to the patient by decompressing the nerve roots.  Individual treatment or combination of different treatments can be used for treating sciatica problems.

Heat/Ice

In case of severe sciatic pain, using heat and ice packs can help in removing the pain from the leg.  This works in the initial stage.  Application of heat/ice for 20 minutes and repetition after every two hours will provide relief to the patient. Ice and it can be alternated while using.

 Medicine for pain

Prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also be used for treatment of sciatica.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like naproxen, ibuprofen, or COX-2 inhibitors can be used for reduction of the inflammation that causes sciatica pain.  Your doctor may also prescribe oral steroids.

Steroid injections

For reduction of the inflammation and pain, the doctor may advise epidural steroid injections.  In this type of injections, steroids are directly injected into the area with the pain around the sciatic nerve.  It reduces inflammation and the pain resulting from it.

It is fast, but temporary.  The effect lasts only for a week to a year.  This type of transaction does not work in case of every patient.  In case of severe sciatic pain, such injections are administered.

 Alternative sciatica treatment

Besides the standard medical treatment offered in case of sciatica, there are some alternative treatments available which are effective in controlling the sciatica pain.

Chiropractic/Manual Manipulation

Manual manipulation and spinal adjustments are made for better spinal column alignment.  Such alignment works on underlying conditions that may result in sciatic pain.  However, such manipulations or adjustments are done only by trained health professionals which include chiropractors, physical therapists and osteopathic physicians.

Such manual manipulations, if done by well-trained professionals, will result in better healing and reduction in pain.

Acupuncture

This is another alternative treatment option which is used for many other medical conditions. Thin needles are inserted into the human body near the area where the pain is to eliminate the pain and correct sciatica nerve problems. Acupuncture is also effective against back pain and it is approved by medical associations in different countries.

Massage therapy

Certain specific massage therapy offer benefits in back pain and sciatica pain by increasing blood circulation, helping in the release of endorphins and relaxation of muscles.

Sciatica Exercise

Sciatica treatment plans will always have physical therapy exercises, including stretching, strengthening and aerobic conditioning in them. Patients engaging in such exercise programs recover quicker from the pain and they also have less risk of having future pain.

General exercises for sciatica

The general exercises for sciatica works on three main areas

 Strengthening exercises

That are several exercises, which strengthened the spinal column besides supporting tendons, ligaments and muscles.  These strengthening exercises work on different muscles and parts of the body. They help in the development of strong core muscles.  Since strong core supports the spine, so the exercises can result in pain relief.  They also help in keeping the spine in alignment and movement of the spine, which reduce the future possibility of injury or damage.

 Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises help by eliminating sciatic pain. The special stretches for sciatica are so designed that they focus on the muscles that cause pain due to tightness and inflexibility.  Hamstring stretching is such a crucial stretching exercises, which is included in all the sciatica exercise programs.

Anaerobic exercises

Low-impact aerobic exercises are recommended for sciatica patients.  Such exercises include swimming, walking, pool therapy. These exercises are considered as a component of recovery as these aerobic exercises help in exchange of nutrients and fluids in the body.  These exercises also help in releasing endorphins, the natural painkiller of the body, which reduces the pain from sciatica.

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Sciatica surgery

If the sciatica pain is severe and there is no improvement in the last 6 to 12 weeks, then it may be necessary to go for sciatica surgery.  However, your doctor is the best person to decide whether you need lower back surgery or not.

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