What Is Sciatica?
Those who have never experienced sciatica themselves or don’t know of an acquaintance suffering from this deadly pain can surely thank their stars for having been spared the discomfort and misery caused by this ailment. Ask a patient suffering from sciatica pain and he will narrate his endless pain that interferes with day to day life and robs him of natural pleasures of life. Sciatica is a common problem that starts with symptoms of back pains that soon traverses down to legs and cripples a person for the time being. This is not all as there are many other symptoms that work to increase the helplessness of the patient all the time. This article attempts to explain everything associated with sciatica including its causes, symptoms, exercises and other possible cures of the ailment. So if you are a patient, or know of a dear one suffering from this ailment, read on to get a deep insight into sciatica. Did you know that your body contains over 600 muscles out of which most are involved in maintaining the position and curvature of your spinal cord that is responsible for a normal posture? These are also the muscles that make possible movement of various other body parts. If any muscle group remains out of balance for a long time, it leads to a condition that is a breeding ground for sciatica pain to start in a person. Sciatica is a condition that can at best be described as a complex problem as it can be a creation of a number of underlying factors. Many patients can feel excruciating pain because of a single factor that can be pinpointed while there may be patients that feel the electrifying pain because of many associated or linked factors.
Sciatica Symptoms. It is a fact that no one condition reflects sciatica and it would be prudent to refer to it as a generic medical term encompassing lots of symptoms that taken together describe a lower back pain that a patient suffers from. When a patient complains of severe back pain that passes down to legs through his buttocks, even down to his feet and toes, doctors suspect him to be suffering from sciatica. Often sciatica presents itself as numbness or a tingling sensation that may not be anything like the severe pain commonly associated with sciatica. This tingling or numbness may be felt by the person when he engages in some activities.
Sciatica Causes. Though sciatica is a common problem, it is really surprising that often it is hard to tell why a person suffers from this ailment. This is why it is often referred to as a back pain complex. Even experienced doctors find it difficult to pinpoint a cause. Number of medical conditions lead to sciatica such as stress and trauma at any point on spinal cord or lower back. This is understandable but when a person feels this pain and the underlying causes are as general as obesity or pregnancy, it presents a vague picture to the doctor. There can be many more underlying causes that require supervision and treatment at the right time. Many a time, there are certain conditions that are seen concurrently with sciatica and these are enumerated below. Osteomyelitis which is a problem in bone or bone marrow that causes debilitating pain and in some cases may cause even death of the patient.
Spinal cord developing a tumor or tumors – Degenerative disc disease – Weakness of muscles – Excess weight – Poor nutrition – Dehydration – Ruptured disc that puts abnormal pressure on the spine. Learn How to Cure Sciatica Naturally: CLICK HERE!
Sciatica is a pain that results from irritation of one of sciatic nerves. This is a lower back pain that goes down to hip and then to both legs extending to feet and toes in some cases. Sciatica nerve is the largest nerve in our body. Running down the spine through the hip, sciatic nerve goes down to knee and ankle. Any damage or pressure on this nerve results in debilitating sciatica pain that needs thorough investigation of probable causes on the basis of symptoms to provide relief to the patient on a permanent basis. Unlike other diseases or ailments where doctors diagnose the cause on the basis of symptoms and
To a patient of sciatica pain, suggestion of exercises seems like asking a person on wheel chair to climb Mt. Everest. If a person is not able to even perform is daily chores, he can certainly not be expected to do exercises meant to provide him relief from agonizing pain. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that exercises are farthest from the mind of a sciatica patient. However, even if you sympathisize with a sciatica patient, you must realize that ultimately the pain can be lessened only when the muscles of the patient are able to withstand the pressure and stress on his spinal column. When the muscles are toned and gain some strength, they prevent any flare up much more easily than if they are weak. But yes, to ask a patient suffering from sciatica pain to get up and to do exercises is perhaps too much.
While looking for a miracle cure, it has to be understood that sciatica pain in itself is not a disease. It is actually a symptom or a group of symptoms with an underlying cause that needs to be targeted if some sort of permanent pain relief is what one is looking for. But one thing is absolutely clear. Incorporating a few exercises that have a beneficial effect on sciatica pain in daily regime is of great help and whether a patient is taking drugs or not, these exercises ensure that his muscles are kept in a toned condition that lessen any flare up of pain. Just a few stretching exercises can bring about a drastic change in the levels of pain and signify the importance of exercise in the management of sciatica pain. Anyone with the slightest of knowledge about the basic principle of exercises knows that they are meant to provide strength to muscles and to develop them to provide the required support to our spine. This is why even doctors rely more on exercises than on drugs to control sciatica pain and to find a permanent solution to end the sufferings of a sciatica patient.
Before starting on any sciatica cure or treatment method, it is important to find a healthcare provider with a proven track record of having cured sciatica patients. Getting to the root of the problem is often the difference between getting the right treatment or actually worsening the condition. If the doctor is able to pin point the root cause of the problem, it becomes easier to concentrate and find the right treatment method. In fact there are some herbal and home remedies that have been found to be quite effective in the treatment of sciatica. However, it all depends upon the underlying cause of pain to start on such remedies. With herbs, there is no harm or side effect which is why one can start the treatment without any fear of worsening the condition of sciatica.
Turmeric is one herb and spice that has scientifically proved to be anti inflammatory, anti septic, and anti biotic. Consuming turmeric in milk regularly has been seen to bring lots of benefits to patients suffering from sciatica. Winter green oil has also been shown to be effective in sciatica pain as a muscle pain reliever. Messaging with mustard or castor oil mixed with garlic brings a lot of relief in pain and inflammation.
Exercises play a great role in reducing the pain associated with sciatica. In many cases, complete bed rest is advised by doctors which, by restricting daily activities brings relief in sciatica pain but it also leads to back muscles becoming weak that aggravates the condition in the long run. However, all sciatica experts say in unison that doing regular exercises keeps the back muscles toned that help in preventing future flare ups. Exercises also increase blood circulation that ensures flow of nutrients across the body, especially spinal cord. These exercises also help a patient in maintaining the correct posture that is extremely important in fighting sciatica pain. A flexible body that results from regular exercises is better able to ward off sciatica symptoms. Among exercises that have been found to be especially effective in reducing sciatica pain, Pilates are perhaps the most popular also. These are not one but a set of exercises that have effect on all core muscles of the body (including back muscles). These exercises can be easily performed with the help of specially designed equipment or on a mat. There is emphasis on quality rather than quantity and body movements that form the backbone of Pilates can be modified to suit the requirements and limitations of different individuals. In cases with patients experiencing severe sciatica pain, it is prudent to undergo Pilates exercise under the guidance of a trained and experienced Pilates Trainer.
Indian form of meditation, known as Yoga, has a number of body postures that are of great help in dealing with sciatica pain. These postures, especially those that lead to strengthening of back muscles, are helpful in reducing sciatica pain. While Yoga CD’s can be taken help of to start on these postures, it is prudent to begin under the guidance of an experienced Yoga teacher. Some of the asanas or postures as they are referred to in western world are really difficult to perform, especially by a person who is experiencing sciatica pain. However, a yoga teacher can modify these postures or reduce the intensity to make it possible for patients to do them easily. Chinese martial art, Tai Chi, is another remedy for patients suffering from sciatica. Any patient who is in a condition to walk can carry out Tai Chi exercises that help greatly in increasing the flexibility of back muscles and joints. These exercises also improve a person’s posture and his balance that play a vital role in providing relief from sciatica pain.
These are some of the many home remedies to bring relief to sciatica patients that can be used along with exercises and medications that doctors have advised to a sciatica patient. However, when there is no response from any of these methods, surgery remains the only available option to sciatica patient. In fact, though complex and not easy to perform, sciatica surgery has been performed on millions of sciatica patients to bring relief from the untold misery and suffering. Though with passage of time and advancement in techniques, many cures and treatment methods of sciatica pain are available to patients, it is seen that not many get true long lasting relief from the symptoms of sciatica pain which is why it becomes necessary to undergo surgery to get rid of the problem.
Though surgery has relieved thousands from their seemingly never ending pain in lower back, it is also true that there are scores of patients whose sufferings did not end even after they underwent surgery. There are both pros and cons of sciatica surgery and it is prudent to be aware of the advantages as well as the downside or the cons of sciatica injury before deciding in favor of surgery. Of course surgery is costly and invokes fears in the minds of those who undergo it. It is painful also and cannot be performed without the help of anesthetics. Then there are chances that you may not be cured of your sciatica pain even after surgery and you may have to go back to all those painkillers and injections to get relief from sciatica pain as before. However, there is also the possibility of being cured once and forever, and it is this lure of enjoying life without sciatica that makes many patients go in for surgery.
Whether one goes past the stage of drugs and injections or not, it is a fact that nipping the bud in time is perhaps the best way to deal with sciatica just like all other ailments. If you are alert and do not ignore the symptoms of lower back pain at the beginning stage, you can certainly be cured of this ailment or keep it within manageable limits to enjoy the fruits of life. Regular exercising and stretching, maintaining a good posture, and taking advice of a healthcare provides as soon as one gets signals of lower back pain are some of the measures that decide if you are one of the lucky ones or condemned to live a life burdened by the agonizing pain of sciatica. The best way to deal with sciatica is to understand that it is not a disease or ailment per se but only a group of symptoms that show up because of an underlying root cause that needs to be diagnosed for any effective treatment method to start on.
Lines of Sciatica Treatment:
Sciatica is defined as the condition of shooting pain along the posterior aspect of the lower limb, typified by its characteristic to cross the knee and sometimes extend down to the foot, along the entire course of the sciatic nerve. Pressure on the sciatic nerve is the most common documented cause, accompanied by factors of intrinsic neuropathy. Among the causes of the former, cases of herniated discs outnumber the others. The others include pregnancy, infection, trauma, hematomas and so forth. Sciatica treatment is dictated by the severity of the presenting complaint, the condition of the patient and the underlying pathology. The most important part of sciatica treatment, regardless of the above mentioned factors, is as much bed rest as possible. Although this line of treatment is advised to nearly all patients, its efficacy is still debatable and under research.
The second step that is taken in the course of sciatica treatment is the alleviation of symptoms. Pain killers are used, mostly on a self therapeutic level by the patients themselves. Oral and parenteral cortisone have been used with some efficacy as well owing to the anti- inflammatory properties of the drug. While the immediate symptoms are controlled, an investigation is made into the possible causes with the help of the history taken. For instance, a history of sudden trauma to the back may indicate compression due to a herniated disc or trauma-induced swelling and inflammation. In the cases of inflammation, anti-inflammatory therapy is usually adequate. In the cases of herniated discs, bed rest may be enough, or, if the patient’s age and condition allows it, surgery may be performed.
Among the surgical procedures conducted for sciatica treatment, the most common is the laminectomy, whereby the laminas of the concerned vertebrae are incised to relieve the pressure over the nerve. This is mostly indicated where the vertebral foramen have been found to be excessively narrow. If all this is not possible, owing to the patient’s condition or lack of consent, a variety of non-pharmacological and non-invasive techniques are also available. This line of sciatica treatment includes muscle relaxation and exercise programs that help to cope up with the pain. Such measures are not restricted to sciatica only; they are also used in a variety of other painful conditions where therapeutics does not seem to have a commendable effect. Sciatica, in spite of all these treatments, nearly always becomes chronic, necessitating caution and treatment for life. It is, however, an extremely manageable condition and does not have any associated morbidity and no significant debility as well.