The sciatic nerve that starts from the back of the pelvis, and runs through the buttocks, legs and all the way to feet, is the longest nerve in the body. And sciatica is the pain that occurs due to the compression of this nerve.
So, the pain that stems from this condition generally originates in your lower back, and then travels to your buttocks, legs, and finally to the feet.
Based on the seriousness of the condition, the pain ranges from mild to severe. Not all the people struggling with this problem face same issues because it depends on the degree of nerve compression.
Since the symptom of this condition might confuse you, and make you believe that you are suffering from some other problem linked to the spine or lower back; therefore, it’s better to take professional help to identify the true nature of your pain.
And your failure to discover the actual reason behind the pain makes it hard for you to get the right treatment for it.
So, if you are unable to identify how exactly it feels like when a person suffers from sciatica, here are some signs and symptoms of this condition to clear up your doubts.
- Lower back pain that worsens while you are sitting in a chair or a couch
- Pain that originates in your lower back but then travels all the way down to your legs
- Difficulty in getting up from a bed or chair due to a shooting pain in the back or hip
- Pain that continues to create problems while performing daily activities
- Reduced mobility because of leg pain
- Hip pain that worsens with repetitive movements
- Tingling sensation in the back
It is a condition that affects only one side of your body, and the way in which the pain travels depends upon the location of the pinched nerve. Some people with this problem might experience extreme pain, while for others it might just be an irritating sensation that comes and goes. In short, the pain travels through the sciatic never, and hence you feel it in different parts of your lower body.
For an even more clear understanding, let’s take a look at sciatic nerve.
- It is the largest nerve in your body that originates in the lumbar segment
- The nerve roots that branch out from the spinal canal at each level of the spine help form the sciatic nerve
- It starts from the lower back and extends to hips and legs
Now let’s take a look at the causes of sciatica
This condition can occur due to various reasons; therefore, it’s essential to address its root-cause if you want to relieve the pain permanently.
According to Atlas Physical Therapy, “Several underlying causes can result in this nerve compression in your lower back. In most cases, it’s a bone spur or herniated disc pressing into the nerve, but sciatica has also been known to occur when a tumor grows in the area, or due to the spinal degeneration and narrowing, which can happen with age.”
Disc prolapse or slipped disc is the most common cause of sciatica. It is a condition during which a gel-filled disc bulges through the spine putting pressure on the sciatic nerve that eventually leads to pain and discomfort.
Muscle spasms, which generally occur because of overuse of muscles, electrolyte abnormalities, and fatigue, etc., can also lead to sciatica. Yes, the compression of the sciatic never can also occur when it travels via muscles. One of the best examples of muscle spasm causing sciatica is piriformis syndrome. It is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when piriformis muscle presses the sciatic nerve.
Spinal degeneration, which is related to aging, is also a common cause of sciatica. Disc degeneration that impacts the lumbar spine can lead to nerve compression. Spinal stenosis is one of those conditions that occur due to spinal degeneration. The main reason behind the compression of this nerve is the narrowing down of the path through which it travels.
Apart from that, you can also experience this condition due to infections and tumors.
Risk Factors For Sciatica
- Prolonged sitting
- Excessive Weight
- Lifting heavy loads on the back
So, if you are suffering from this condition, here is how you can treat it.
You can treat this condition in a variety of ways; however, most people in today’s world prefer physical therapy for it. Physical therapy, which involves the use of biomechanics and mechanical force, exercise, and manual therapy techniques, etc., is one of the best ways to heal musculoskeletal disorders including sciatica.
It’s a Natural Way of Healing Pain
Although, you can also use medicines and surgical treatment to treat this lower back problem; however, the reason more and more people are opting for physical therapy is that it treats injuries and illnesses naturally. And the best part is that patients who seek physical therapy do not struggle with the side-effects because the treatment involves different types of exercises along with some manual therapy techniques.
Physical Therapy Enhances Your Body’s Healing Capacity
The reason you start recovering quickly after a couple of physical therapy sessions is that treatment that you receive aims at strengthening your body’s ability to fight with injuries or illnesses.
For example, when your therapist involves different types of stretching exercises in your treatment plan, those moves not only strengthen your flexibility but also help in increasing circulation, which eventually results in improved blood flow to the injured part of your body.
And when blood flow to the affected part increases, it accelerates the healing process.
When you seek physical therapy for sciatica, your physical therapist will focus on improving your circulation, strength, and flexibility. And to achieve these goals, your therapist will include low-impact aerobics and strength building moves in your care plan, apart from stretching exercises.
Low-impact aerobic exercises like walking and swimming are immensely crucial for supplying those much-needed nutrients to the affected part of your body. And the best part is that you can perform low-impact aerobics at your home. Yes, you don’t have to be present in front of your therapist all the time, when it comes to performing aerobics.
On the other hand, strength building exercises help in strengthening muscles, ligaments, and tendons that help in keeping your spine in good shape.