Sciatica Demystified

The sciatic nerve extends from the lower back and down the back of each leg. Sciatica is the pain you get when this nerve is pinched or pressure exerted on it in some way, usually by a herniated disc. No particular injury causes sciatica, it is mostly because of the wear and tear of the lower spine.

Sciatica can be pretty debilitating. It is a relentless pain and can affect one whole side of the lower back, buttock, thigh, leg, and foot. You will find it difficult to sit, and experience a shooting pain when you try to stand. The pain will be constant and may be accompanied by a lower backache as well.

Mostly sciatica is a result of inflammation of the nerve root and there is unlikely to be lasting tissue damage. It can get better within a few weeks to a few months. Non-surgery treatments comprise some kind of exercises, which involves stretching very carefully.

These should alleviate the pain along with anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers. Surgery is indicated if there has been no relief with exercises or medicines and the pain continues. This involves removing the part of the disc that is irritating the sciatic nerve. The doctor will probably suggest a CT scan or an MRI to identify what is causing the pain.

In the meantime you should rest to the extent that it relieves the pain but not so much that you are missing out on work. You should realize that it will get better soon and so stay active as much as possible while favoring the side that has the pain.

Take painkillers and don’t put too much strain on your back. Use hot and cold applications to give relief. If the pain is still unbearable, the doctor may advise you to have an epidural injection.

Sciatica is curable and requires some rest and a lot of time. Consult a physician when you have these symptoms.

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