Sciatica Pain: Everything You Need to Know About It

Sciatica is a pain that is usually caused by irritating the sciatic nerve. Anything that hurts this nerve can make you suffer from pain right from mild to severe pain.

It is important for you to know that sciatica is caused by a compressed nerve that is present in your lower spine.

What is sciatica?

Your sciatic nerve starts at the spinal cord and then runs through your hips, and buttocks, and finally branches down to each leg.

You need to know that the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body and also one of the most essential ones.

This nerve has a direct effect on your ability to control as well as feel your legs. When this nerve is irritated, you suffer from sciatica pain.

When it comes to the main cause of sciatica then it is a herniated or slipped disk that causes a lot of pressure on your nerve root.   

The pain might come and go or stay for a long time. However, you get relief from sciatica with exercises, medicines, or postures recommended by the doctor.

People suffering from serious sciatica that is linked with major leg weakness or bladder or bowel changes might require surgery.

Symptoms of Sciatica pain

In case, you are experiencing pain that starts from your lower back to the buttock area and finally into your lower limbs then it’s typical sciatica.

Sciatica is often the result of damage or injury to the sciatic nerve. Due to this, symptoms of nerve damage are mainly present with the pain.

Some of the other symptoms of sciatica pain include-

  • Pain that becomes worse with movement
  • The sensation of pins and needles usually involves a painful tingling in your feet or toes.
  • Weakness, numbness, or burning in your legs or feet along the sciatic nerve pathway, might turn into a loss of feeling or movement in serious cases.
  • Incontinence is a disorder in which you are not able to control your bowels or bladder.
  • This is a very rare symptom of cauda equina syndrome and requires doctor attention immediately.

Areas affected by sciatica pain

It is vital for you to understand that sciatica pain occurs along the path of the sciatica nerve or its branches. Usually, the back and outer parts of your thigh and leg are affected.

Some of the other most common regions that might be affected by sciatica pain include:

  • Sole of foot
  • Low back
  • The web between your first and second toes
  • Front of your thigh & leg
  • The top and outer side of your foot

Keep one thing in your mind, in sciatica, leg pain turns out to be more serious when compared to back pain.

Sciatica causes and risk factors

Here are some common causes and risk factors of sciatica pain:

1.) Age

Age-related changes in the spine like herniated disks and bone spurs are the most common causes that lead to sciatica pain. 

Have an injury or previous injury. An injury in your lower back or spine often puts you at a greater risk of sciatica.

2.) Overweight

Remember your spine is like a vertical crane and your muscles are considered the counterweights.The weight you carry in the front of your body is what your spine has to elevate.

The more weight you have, the more your back muscles need to work. This further leads to pains, back strains as well as other back problems.

3.) Occupation

A job that demands you to twist your back, drive a motor vehicle for a long time and carry heavy loads often increases your risk of suffering from sciatica pain.

4.) Prolonged sitting

People who sit for a long time or lead a sedentary lifestyle often have more risk to suffer from sciatica than people who are active.

5.) Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that affects your body the way it uses blood sugar. As a result, your risk of suffering from nerve damage increases to a great extent.

6.) Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can damage your spine and put nerves at risk of injury.

7.) Smoke

The presence of nicotine in tobacco often damages your spinal tissue, weakens bones and at the same time, speeds up the wearing down of your vertebral disks.

Sciatica diagnosis

If the doctor thinks you suffer from sciatica, then a physical exam will be conducted so that your reflexes can be checked and the doctor can see how strong your muscles are.

The doctor might recommend you to do certain activities such as walking on your toes or heels so that the cause behind your pain can be seen.

In case, your pain is serious then the doctor might recommend imaging tests in order to check herniated disks and bone spurs.

The doctor can also suggest tests like:-

  • X-Ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Electromyography

Is the weight of pregnancy, the major reason for sciatica in pregnant women?

It is true that sciatica is very common in pregnant women but the increased weight is not the main reason why most pregnant women suffer from sciatica.

You need to understand that certain hormones of pregnancy lead to the loosening of their ligaments.

Ligaments are responsible for holding the vertebrae together, safeguarding the disks as well as maintaining the stability of your spine.

Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unbalanced and cause the disks to slip, affecting the nerves and causing sciatica.

The weight of the baby and position can also add additional force to the nerve. Remember there are ways to ease sciatic pain at the time of pregnancy.

However, the pain goes away after the birth of the child. Massage therapy, physical therapy, heat, medicines, and warm showers can ease sciatic pain during pregnancy.

Treatments options for Sciatica

When you are diagnosed with sciatica, the doctor will recommend different treatment options in order to treat your pain.

Make sure you continue your daily activities and keep yourself active as much as possible. Just lying down in bed and not doing anything can worsen the condition.

Some of the most effective treatment options for managing sciatica pain include-

1.) Medicines

To decrease swelling, pain, and inflammation, the doctor will recommend medications.

Medicine such as Pain O Soma 500mg and Pain O Soma 350mg is often recommended for treating sciatica pain.

This oral tablet is a muscle relaxant and provides quick relief from discomfort linked with painful, acute as well as musculoskeletal problems.

It works by blocking pain sensations that happen between the nerves and the brain.

The doctor can also recommend different medicines like narcotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-seizure drugs, and tricyclic antidepressants.

2.) Applying ice or hot packs

First, you must use ice packs to decrease swelling and pain. In the affected area, you need to apply ice packs wrapped in a towel properly. For almost three to four times a day, apply the ice pack for 20 minutes.

After the first several days, you must switch to a hot pack or a heating pad after consulting the doctor. You need to apply this hot pack for 20 minutes only at a time.

In case, you are still in pain then switch between cold and hot packs whatever provides your better relief from the discomfort.

3.) Stretching

Stretching your lower back gently can be extremely helpful. In order to learn how to stretch properly, you must take the help of physical therapy from a physical therapist or instructor who has expertise in dealing with the injury.

4.) Regular exercises

The more you stay active, the more endorphins are released by your body. Endorphins are basically the pain relievers that are made by your body.

It is always suggested to start with low-impact activities first such as swimming and stationary bicycling.

5.) Surgery

The doctor might recommend surgery when you suffer from serious pain or you have lost control over your bowel and bladder.

Surgery is also recommended when you suffer from weakness in certain muscle groups mainly in the region of your lower foot.

Therefore, sciatica is a painful sensation that can cause moderate to severe pain if not treated on time. So, consult the doctor and get the right treatment.