Return to www.bakersfieldtrackclub.com
What is Sciatica?
A common lower back problem, sciatica is a pain that radiates from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. It usually occurs on one side of the body and can range from an infrequent discomfort to a shooting, debilitating pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve is most prevalent in the age range of 30 to 50 and can happen suddenly or over an extended period of time. Sciatic pain can happen as the result of wear and tear from aging or from pressure being placed on the disks that cushion the vertebrae of the lower spine. Those affected the most by sciatica are people with sedentary lifestyles, long distance drivers, manual workers, those with a genetic history of disk problems, and smokers. Rarely serious, sciatica will usually heal by itself within 6 to 12 weeks.
Pain in lower back that radiates through the buttocks and down the leg.
Pain that makes it difficult to sit and/or stand. May worsen with coughing, sneezing, or straining.
Burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected leg and/or foot.
Causes of Sciatica:
A herniated disk.
Degenerative disk disease.
An injury, such as a fall or strain, which may result in irritation of the sciatic nerve or inflammation of the sacroiliac joint.
Small stress fracture of the lower vertebrae.
The narrowing of the spinal canal, an age-related condition.
Immediately stop the activity that is causing pain, but do not become immobile. It is better to carry on with every day movement. Bed rest could actually worsen the situation.
Apply ice therapy at 20-minute intervals during the acute stage of the first 24 to 48 hours after pain first occurs. Some compression can also be helpful.
After 48 hours, alternate heat and ice.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, to reduce pain and inflammation.
In the case of severe pain or pain that does not resolve itself after 4 to 6 weeks, see a physician. If loss of bowel or bladder control, increasing weakness in legs or feet, or fever results, seek medical attention immediately.
Prevention of Sciatica:
Strengthen abdominal muscles by doing crunches.
Daily exercise that includes stretching exercises specifically meant for tight back muscles.
Exercises that dont apply pressure to the back, such as walking or swimming.
Regular breaks during the day stand and walk around if you are usually sitting, sit or shift weight from one leg to the other if you usually stand.
Lift objects with your legs, not your back.
Wear proper fitting, low-heeled shoes.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious back injury. If you have diabetes, a circulatory problem, nerve damage, paralysis or insensitive skin, talk with your doctor before using a cold pack.
Relieving Sciatica: Using Complementary Medicine to Overcome the Pain of Sciatica
By Larry P. Credit, et al
Back Pain: How to Relieve Low Back Pain and Sciatica
By Loren Fishman, Carol Ardman
By Bob and Jean Anderson