The Six Most Common Causes Of Sciatica
Several spinal disorders can cause spinal nerve compression and sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy. The six most common causes are:
- Protruding or herniated disc
- Spinal tumor
Lumbar bulging disc or disc herniation
A bulging disc is also known as a limited disc disorder. This means that the gelatinous mass located between the vertebrae and serving as a shock absorber remains contained inside the rubber-like outer wall which prevents the nucleus from coming out of its place. Most people who show signs of a bulging disc will feel numbness, burning, and pain in the bulging area. The symptoms of a bulging disc are usually felt only when they become inflamed due to activity that puts pressure on the surrounding nerve.
A herniated disc causes far more pain. The pain is caused by the pressure of the disc located between the two vertebrae and which in this case is pushed towards the nerve coming out of the spine. A disc herniation not only causes the nerve root to compress directly into the inside of the bony spinal canal, but the disc material itself also contains an acidic, chemical irritant that causes nerve inflammation. In both cases, compression and irritation of the nerves cause inflammation and pain, often leading to numbness of the extremities, tingling, and / or muscle weakness.
Lumbar spinal stenosis
Tumors of the spine
Improved Soft Tissue Health
Regular mobilization exercises for sciatica may help heal the soft tissues in the disks and keep them healthy. Research suggests that the spinal disks may have a more healthy exchange of nutrients and liquid during exercise. As a result, prolonged disuse and reduced physical activity may be harmful to the disks.
Taming The Pain Of Sciatica: For Most People Time Heals And Less Is More
- By Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH, Contributor
Despite being a less common cause of low back pain, sciatica is still something I regularly see as a general internist. Primary care doctors can and should manage sciatica, because for most individuals the body can fix the problem. My job is to help manage the pain while the body does its job. When a persons symptoms dont improve, I discuss the role of surgery or an injection to speed things up.
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How To Identify Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy
If you experience sciatica in pregnancy, your growing uterus may be the cause. As your uterus swells to accommodate your baby, it puts pressure on your organs and bones.
Certain parts of your body may start to hurt as it tries to balance the weight and pressure of the baby. Many women report feeling weakness and pain in their hips, back, legs, and joints as they progress through the trimesters. But how can you tell if what youre feeling is sciatica pain?
Sciatica pain during pregnancy usually occurs in these areas:
- Lower back
Sciatica pain tends to run down those focal points. If you feel pain that starts in your lower back and travels down one leg into your knee, its probably sciatica. If you feel pain in the back of your knee that wraps around your heel and settles in your toes, that could also be sciatica.
How Your Walking Posture Affects Your Sciatic Nerve
Proper walking posture is important for people with sciatica as improper posture can aggravate sciatica symptoms. Watch ourVideo: 2 Walking Tips to Avoid Sciatica Pain
Sciatica occurs because a causative factor, such as a bone, disc, or muscle in your lower back impinges on your sciatic nerve roots. When you walk and stand correctly, you align your bones in a more effective way, creating a better pathway for the course of your sciatic nerve.
Read more about Sciatica Causes
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Physical Exercise For Sciatica
Over the last few years, experts say that exercise improves health at the cellular level. Many people say that it is effective, as it aids in pain modulation either by itself or in conjunction with other treatment therapies.
Exercise loosens tight muscles and bones that might be impeding the sciatic nerve, thereby causing pain and other symptoms of sciatica.
If you are too busy to do extended periods of exercise, here is a video about One Minute Sciatica Exercises for Quick Pain Relief& Cure of Sciatic Pain:
While exercise can be helpful for any kind of pain, caution should be kept in mind. So before beginning any exercise, please seek advice from your primary caregiver.
Tips On How To Relieve Sciatica Pain
Sciatica is a common condition causing pain, numbness and tingling sensations. Its a form of nerve pain stemming from the compression of the sciatic nerve. You may hear sciatica referred to as lumbar pain or lumbar radiculopathy. Learn how to identify sciatica and how to relieve sciatica pain with simple practices and stretches.
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Conservative Care In The First Few Days
Within the first few days of an acute flare-up of sciatica, you should rest, use an ice pack and keep your spine in a neutral position as shown here.
You may be wondering where you should put the ice pack because the painful area is so broad. The ice pack should be alternated 15 minutes over the spine at your low back and 15 minutes over the painful area of your buttocks.
Ice decreases inflammation, which will be present in both your low back and buttocks. The pain in your leg is a symptom of the inflammation in your back and buttocks therefore, you may notice a decrease in leg pain immediately after using ice. You can use ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, many times throughout the day for pain relief.
How To Walk With Sciatica
Robert Gillanders, DPT, a board certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy, told Healthline that walking can be helpful because its often one of the first therapeutic exercises one can do.
I regularly have patients start this by doing multiple short walks each day. Postural muscles will lose their endurance when in a reactive state, as seen with sciatica, so regular posture changes are helpful.
He suggested short walks, gentle stretching, followed by ice, while lying supine or prone . Repeat the process often, he said. Pace should be conversational. The terrain should be flat. Keep distances short, and take breaksas needed.
He also advised, Good posture is essential in both standing and sitting. Supportive walking shoes are a must.
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Depression And Negative Emotions
Stress can be a trigger for any kind of pain, including sciatica. According to Dr. John Sarno, a Physician at the New York University Medical Center and Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine Professor at New York University School of Medicine, bodily pain can be a result of repressed emotions and stress.
For years, he has been advocating a different approach to determining the cause and managing back pain that is associated with emotions rather than those that are picked up through MRI scans or verified using a diagnostic injection.
Needless to say, not all medical professionals have been supportive of his straightforward yet patient-centric way on diagnosing and treating back pains.
Avoid Prolonged Rest And Start A Structured Progressive Exercise Routine
While it seems counterintuitive to recommend staying active rather than rest, your pain will increase with prolonged inactivity and decrease with motion.1
Useful tips to help you stay active during the day are:
- Use the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Park in a distant parking space to get a few extra walking steps.
- If you have a desk job, get up every 30 minutes to an hour and walk a short distance.
- Consider switching to a standing desk with adjustable height.
- Perform simple stretches that you can do while sitting on your office chair, such as stretching your hamstrings.
- Go for regular, short walks in the morning and/or evening, even if it is for a few minutes every day.
It is a good idea to work with a physical therapist and/or make exercise a part of your daily routine. A regular routine of structured exercise can help support and hold up your spine and lessen your sciatica symptoms by strengthening your abdominal, core, lumbar , and pelvic muscles.2,3,4 Your spinal discs are also nourished when you exercise, allowing the flow of nutrients and encouraging healing.5
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Herniated Disc And Sciatica
A herniated disc may then impinge or compress a nerve, which can cause pain around the area of the affected disc. Research suggests that nerve impingement due to slipped disc is the most common reason for sciatica.
So, what are the most common signs and symptoms of sciatica? And what are the most common sciatica risk factors?
Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects
Follow your doctors recommendations but generally, in the acute phase of sciatica, avoid lifting objects that weigh more than 15 pounds, Dr. Singh says. And when you lift, do not attempt to lift an object that is far away from your body.
What to do instead: Stand close to the object with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and squat down to the object. Lift the object by holding it with your hands on either side, Dr. Singh says. Make sure your head, back, and buttocks are aligned. Tighten your gluteal and abdominal muscles. Lift with your leg muscles by standing up from your squat position, keeping the object as close to you as possible and keeping your spine as straight as you can.
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Why Does Sitting Cause Back Pain
In theory, sitting sounds like it should be a great way to ease pain. Youre not up and around, and your body is at rest. Thats not the case, though our bodies are made to be up and about, and excessive sitting can put a lot of pressure on your back, hips, and tailbone.
Dr. David Petron, a sports medicine physician, noted in an interview at the University of Utah that the most common reason is really prolonged sitting. Were not designed to sit for hours at length.
Lower back pain and sciatica from sitting is due to the amount of pressure being put on your disks. Sitting puts more pressure on the discs in your back than nearly any other activity, including running, especially if you are sitting with poor posture. These discs, when compressed, can hurt and can also press on the nerves coming out of the spine and cause pain. Sitting also creates increased pressure on the sciatic nerve in your glute, which travels all the way down to your leg. If youve ever felt shooting pains in your leg after sitting down, the issue may actually lie in the discs and nerves in your lower back.
Main Causes Of Sciatica:
- Spinal Stenosis which can compress on the nerves.
- Extra bone growth near the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylolithesis or misalignment of one vertebrae over another.
- Lumbar or pelvic muscle inflammation or spasm can impinge a lumbar or sacral nerve resulting in sciatic symptoms.
- Malignancy, infection, and gynaecological conditions .
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Do I Need Surgery For My Lower Back Pain And Sciatica
One common issue thats prevalent throughout our culture is that surgery is necessary and beneficial in cases where theres significant pain. While this is true in some cases and you should always consult with your doctor, sciatica and lower back pain typically does not require surgery. The key to determining if you need surgery is to first determine the actual cause of your pain. Just because you have a herniated disc, doesnt mean that it is the source of your pain. There are many people, young and old, that have herniated discs with no pain.
Can Sciatica Be Cured
People with Sciatica always ask, Can sciatica be cured? The answer is, typically, with the appropriate treatment method, you may be able to consider sciatica pain an afterthought.
Sciatica pain is a treatable condition, no matter how challenging it may seem.
Physicians can help you determine the cause of sciatica, and from there, you may be able to look into various forms of treatment programs.
Most people respond well to natural treatment methods, depending on the probable cause of sciatic nerve compression and are symptom-free after a few treatment sessions. So, instead of living with sciatica pain, give some treatments a try.
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Q Why Is Sciatica Worse At Night
When you lay down you put additional pressure on your nerves and that can heighten pain. Moreover, most people sleep in cold temperatures and some people become sensitive to cold temperatures because of the pain.
Doctors also conclude that Sciatica pain worsens at night because at night people are usually left to their devices, they have nothing to distract their mind from the pain and that is when they notice their pain the most.
Furthermore, at night when your body starts preparing for rest your hormone levels change and that can contribute to pain. For instance, cortisol levels drop when your body is preparing to sleep, that can cause your inflammation to rise and add more to your pain levels.
Your medication might wear off during the night as most people take them during the day. This can also be a factor of why your sciatica is worse at night.
Choosing Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants For Your Sciatic Nerve Pain Needs
If youve been experiencing sciatica and have yet to find a resolution for your pain, youll want to contact us at Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants. Well be here waiting to assist you on your journey towards health and wellness. Feel free to reach out to us using the form below and well be sure to respond to you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
DISCLAIMER: No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Ways To Relieve Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy
If you have sciatica pain during pregnancy, you are not alone. Sciatica and pregnancy go hand in hand. About two-thirds of all women develop sciatica during pregnancy.
Once you have determined that you have sciatica, you can try different remedies to relieve the pain. Some simple sciatica remedies include stretching, gentle exercises, and massages.
Try these gentle exercises for sciatica pain relief during pregnancy after youve discussed them with your doctor:
Be sure to talk to your doctor before doing any exercise while youre pregnant. Every pregnancy is different, so your doctor may want you to avoid certain things for your health. Swimming can be especially beneficial because the water allows your body to be more buoyant, which can remove strain and pressure on your joints and bones while exercising.
Gentle massages can help relieve sciatica during pregnancy. Try these methods:
- Tennis ball on the floor: Lie on your back and place a tennis ball under your lower back. Roll the ball around, massaging your back muscles. This is a good massage while you are in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Tennis ball on the wall: Place a tennis ball between your back and the wall and roll the ball around. This massage works great for women who are in their third trimester.
- Massage therapist: Light strokes on and around the lower back can do wonders for an inflamed and painful sciatic nerve.
Applying A Topical Temedy
There are a couple of topical patches, creams, and gels having anti-numbing or pain-relieving ingredients to offer pain relief. These ingredients tend to enter your tissues and then work on the symptoms locally. There are hardly any side effects, keeping long-term issues at bay.
Some of the topical medications available over the counter are menthol, camphor, capsaicin, methyl salicylate, and trolamine salicylate. In some products, multiple ingredients may be present to give relief quicker than usual.
Just note that while using these topical medications, do not simultaneously use a heat or ice pack. This is because using both therapies can change or modify the effects of topical remedies.
You can even choose natural topical medications. One of the most common natural remedies is applying a fenugreek paste. To prepare it, you need fenugreek seeds that you then convert into the powdered form and add two teaspoons of it to milk to get a spreadable thickness.
You can then apply this paste twice a day. Fenugreek seeds are powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Another natural option to consider is peppermint oil that is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Its ability to release pain can help. You need to prepare a mix of five to six drops of peppermint oil and a carrier oil such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil and apply it to the affected area.
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View Hot Cold Packs On Amazon
Ice alleviate pain by reducing inflammation or swelling that compresses the sciatic nerve. On the other hand, heat packs can be useful in relaxing the tight muscles on the lower back.
If you are not sure when to use cold packs or hot compress, read this article on Ice and Heat therapy for lower back pain.
Perform Regular Piriformis Exercises
As weve seen, sitting for extended hours could cause sciatica. Performing regular exercises will also give you a healthy sitting when youre back in the office. Try out exercises that aim at the piriformis muscle, which is the band-like muscle in the butt . The muscle stabilizes the hip joints, lifts the thigh from the body, and helps lower body movement.
The piriformis stretch is one such exercise. The exercise involves lying flat on the floor on your back with your legs straight, lifting the affected leg, bending your knee, using your opposite hand to reach across the body, and gently pulling the knee towards the opposite shoulder. The stretch should last for 15-30 seconds while repeating the 2 -4 times on one side, then the other. Combine this exercise with walking and youll see how your legs will feel strong.
While doctors recommend using medication to relieve piriformis pain, your physical therapist will advise exercises, physical therapy, and regular stretching.
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