Sciatica can cause pain everywhere along the affected side, from your buttocks to the toes, as well as pins and needles, burning, and loss of sensation. When you cough, sneeze or sit motionless for a lengthy period of time, the soreness usually worsens.
Sciatica affects up to 40% of individuals at some time in their lives, making it a highly common condition. Here are some of the facts you should be aware of if you have sciatica:
1. Sciatica is a type of nerve pain
The sciatic nerve is your body’s longest and biggest nerve. It provides feeling to your lower extremities and feet as well as helps you move your hamstrings and calf muscles.
When a disk or other structures inside your lower spine get herniated or otherwise damaged, it could make the sciatic nerve nearby irritated, or inflamed, causing radicular pain, which is known as sciatica.
2. Other health problems can result in sciatica
Your spine is made up of complex structures such as discs, joints, and nerves. It does a remarkable job of supporting your body on a daily basis, but some disorders might induce changes to your spine that could put pressure on the sciatic nerve and result in sciatica. These factors could be as follows:
- An injured disc
- Piriformis syndrome
3. How long do the symptoms last?
Typically, the first few weeks of pain are the worst, and the first few months are when it lessens the greatest. About half of sciatica sufferers will have had considerable improvement after twelve weeks. Three-quarters of sciatica sufferers will be pain-free within a year. However, for some individuals, the discomfort could not go away as quickly as anticipated, or healing might take a very long period.
4. How painful is sciatica?
The severity and length of sciatica symptoms might change from day to day. The symptoms can be severe, erratic, and incredibly frustrating. Although quite disturbing, sciatica is not usually dangerous. Symptoms, such as back pain and discomfort in your legs, might consume you completely. It may be difficult to concentrate on other things. Try to keep up with the things that give your life meaning while receiving help to manage discomfort. This could entail activities like taking a walk on the beach, playing with the grandkids, seeing a friend for dinner, or continuing to work. Even though it could be challenging at times, doing this might assist with coping and staying in good mental health.
5. Some people are at higher risk of sciatica
Anyone can suffer from sciatica, although the following factors increase your risk:
- Sitting motionless for much of the day, such as while traveling a long distance or working in an office
- Being overweight because it puts more strain on your spine
- Doing lots of lifting and twisting frequently increases your chances of back injury
- Having osteoarthritis and other age-related changes in your back (individuals in their forties and fifties are most frequently affected)
6. Treatment depends on the underlying culprit
The underlying reason for your sciatica will help determine the best course of treatment. Naturally, you want professional help to reduce the effects of sciatica so you may live a more comfortable life. However, effective sciatica therapy shouldn’t stop there.
In the end, sciatica is a form of radiating pain. The underlying problem is in your back, even though you feel discomfort in your lower extremities.
In order to effectively treat sciatica, the underlying cause must be found and treated. Imaging tests, advice from other medical specialists, further therapy, or a change in lifestyle may be necessary.
7. Exercise is better than rest
When you’re hurt, it seems natural to want to reduce your activity. When it comes to sciatica, doctors don’t advise abstaining from all activity and movement. Instead, they recommend performing the appropriate exercises and movements.
Movement nourishes your body. Exercise can enhance the flexibility of your sciatic nerve as well as your entire musculoskeletal system. Consult a physical therapist so they can determine what’s causing your sciatic pain and prescribe a series of specialized exercises to help you feel better.
8. You should focus on core strength, posture, and stretching
Your physical therapist will provide you with exact recommendations customized to your condition. Some of the typical exercises for sciatica are those focusing on:
- Exercises for posture and core strength that help strengthen the structures supporting your spine
- Stretches to relax the hamstrings and lower back
9. The long-term results of physical therapy are comparable to those of surgery
Even while you might believe that surgery is a miracle cure for living without sciatica, that isn’t always the case. In reality, studies demonstrate that, over a 4 to 10 year period, physical therapy produces outcomes comparable to those of surgery without the same risks and expenditures. That ought to motivate you to continue working out!
10. You might need an emergency help
Seek immediate medical attention if you become unable to control your bowels or bladder, or if you have numbness in your feet or other body parts (e.g. your inner thighs, buttocks, perineum, and back of legs). These might be signs of cauda equina syndrome, a dangerous nerve disorder that typically necessitates surgery and emergency care.