What exactly is sciatica?
Sciatica can best be described as leg pain which is caused by a pinched nerve in the lower back. Typically, the pain begins in the nerve roots which are located on either side of the lower spine, they then course through the sciatic nerve, which runs the length of each leg from the buttock down to the foot. The leg agony, called radiculopathy, is often worse than the back pain.
Why does it happen?
The most common cause is a bulging disc or a herniated disk: When a disk develops a tear or crack and bulges into the spinal canal, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. Usually symptoms clear up within about 6 weeks, but for some people, the pain can last.
What can I do?
Moving is usually the last thing people dogged by sciatica want to do, but it's important to be physically active. Lying in bed makes it more likely that the pain will last longer. Exercise increases blood flow to the disk and the nerve, helping to get rid of the chemicals causing the inflammation. Take 15- to 20-minute walks. If that hurts too much, give swimming or water aerobics a try; there's not as much pressure on the back when you're in the water. It may also be worth seeing a physical therapist, who can prescribe stretching exercises to restore flexibility to the back or moves that strengthen core muscles, helping to stabilize the spine and reduce the likelihood of a similar injury.
Pain Relievers and Muscle Relaxants
Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, either OTC (like ibuprofen) or Rx, can ease the distress. Because painful muscle spasms may also accompany a disk herniation, doctors sometimes prescribe muscle relaxants.
Epidural Steroid Injections
People whose pain doesn't lessen within about a month and who aren't helped by other therapies may find their pain remedied by an x-ray-guided injection of steroid into the lower back near the sciatic nerve. The hope is to reduce inflammation within that nerve branch.
If you’ve been experiencing continued pain despite using some of these suggestions then CONTACT US or visit us at our Mt. Prospect clinic.
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