Sciatica is often misunderstood as general lower back pain or soreness, rather than identified as sharp nerve pain throughout the body that can vary in intensity. The sciatic nerve pain can occur in any part of the lower half of the body depending on where the nerve becomes irritated, from the lower back to the soles of the feet. Up to 40% of people will experience some form of sciatic pain in their life, though there are ways to minimize your risk of developing sciatica and existing treatment methods to help relieve your nerve pain. Read on to discover everything you need to know about sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is more than just lower back pain. As the largest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and continues through the buttocks and down each leg. If it becomes irritated, it can cause varying levels of pain, known as sciatica. This nerve can become pinched and cause pain for a variety of reasons, though the most common causes are related to a herniated disc or bone spur which pinches the sciatic nerve in the back. In rare cases, sciatica can also be caused by pressure from a tumor or damaged nerves as a result of a disease like diabetes.
Sciatica pains vary from person to person and can range from mild aches to sharp burning that may feel like an electric shock. Additionally, this pain can radiate up and down the sciatic nerve regardless of where the damaged nerve originates. In some severe cases, sciatica can also result in numbness and muscle weakness in the affected leg if the nerves in that leg are not receiving nerve signals. You should consult your doctor at the onset of sciatic nerve pain to determine the cause of your discomfort and develop a plan of treatment.
Risk Factors and Prevention of Sciatica
About one in 50 Americans will experience a herniated disc at some point in their life which may lead to sciatica. However, additional risk factors exist that can cause this unique nerve pain. Risk factors for sciatica include obesity or excess body weight, as this increases stress on the spine, as well as age-related changes in the spine. Additionally, certain occupations that require heavy lifting, sedentary lifestyles and occupations that require prolonged sitting, and diabetes can increase the risk of sciatic nerve damage.
There is no cure for sciatica, but there are several lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce your chances of developing sciatic pain or experiencing a flare-up. To limit pressure on the spine, it is helpful to maintain a healthy weight by committing to a balanced diet with sufficient calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D for bone growth and spine health. Moderate exercise can contribute to weight regulation and healthy weight loss, and an additional focus on developing the abdominal muscles results in a stronger core to help support your spine. Using proper posture is also essential for promoting spinal alignment and may reduce your chances of experiencing a herniated disc or bone spur.
Depending on the severity of your sciatic pain, over-the-counter pain relievers, stretching, and icing or heating the affected areas may provide sufficient relief. For cases of sciatica that are resistant to these at-home treatments, however, you may benefit from chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture treatments as well.
If your unique nerve pain is more severe, doctors may also recommend MRIs or CT scans, physical therapy, steroid injections, surgery, or other treatments to lessen your discomfort. At All American Healthcare, we offer a Sciatica Pain Relief Program that encompasses several non-invasive treatment options, including physical therapy, chiropractic manipulations, massage therapy, acupressure, and more. If you are suffering with sciatic pain, explore your options for treatment with your doctor to develop a plan to relieve your pain.
At All American Healthcare, our staff of medical professionals wants to help you live a pain-free life. If you are suffering from sciatica or any other kind of chronic pain, our caring staff of chiropractors, physical therapists, and medical providers want to work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you live without pain. Schedule your free consultation at All American Healthcare today, and see if our Sciatica Pain Relief Program is right for you.