What is Sciatica
Sciatica is the pain that travels along the entire path of sciatic nerve- which runs from lower back, through buttocks and hips and further down to each leg. Sciatica generally occurs when an overgrowth of bone, or a herniated disks puts extra pressure on that part of the nerve, causing pain, inflammation and sometimes also numbness in the affected areas.
The pains associated with sciatica are severe, but they are usually gone after a few weeks of proper treatment. However, patients with severe sciatica, serious bladder and bowel changes or leg weakness might also need surgery.
Sciatica can be caused by different medical conditions, including
- A slipped or herniated disk, causing pressure on the nerve root- it is the most common sciatica causes.
- Spinal stenosis can also pinch sciatic nerve roots. It is a condition in which degenerative disk disease wears down the disks between spine vertebrae, and the wearing of disks causes shortening of their height, resulting in narrower nerve passageways.
- Osteoarthritis- bone spurs (jagged edges of bone) forming in aging spins and compressing lower back nerves.
- Tumors in lumbar spinal canal compressing sciatica nerve.
- Trauma injury to sciatica nerve or lumbar spine.
Most common sciatica symptoms are
- Severe or moderate pain in buttock, lower back and down the leg.
- Weakness r numbness in the buttock, lower back, feet, or leg.
- Loss of movement or pain that gets worse with movement.
- Feeling of pain and needles in feet, legs, and toes.
- Loss of bladder and bowel control.
Sometimes during pregnancy, a type of spinal compression is formed that affects sciatic nerve. In pregnant women, a hormone called ‘relaxin’ is released, to relax ligaments and prepare body for childbirth. However, growing uterus and loose ligaments cause shift in the center of gravity and pinch sciatic nerve, resulting in shooting pain down the leg.
Due to this reason, sciatic sensations might increase during pregnancy- in fact they are quite common, along with lower back pain. They can develop at any stage of pregnancy, usually in the third trimester, as the baby continues to grow and put additional pressure on the unstable muscles and joints. Baby’s position might also cause compression of sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica pregnancy.
It is advised to start sciatica treatment as early as possible, to avoid progression on symptoms. Now the questions arise ‘how to cure sciatica permanently?’
There are several non-surgical and surgical approaches, that can be adopted for sciatica treatment. Usually, doctors prefer non-surgical approaches, and surgeries are performed only as a last resort. Some of the most used treatments for sciatica are
- Physical therapy for sciatica
- Chiropractic Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Lumbar Therapy Injections for Sciatica
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Selective Nerve Root Blocks
One of the above-mentioned treatments might answer ‘how to cure sciatica permanently’, however, sometimes surgery might also be required.
Sciatica Treatment at Home
While it is essential to get doctors approval before going for any home remedies, there are several options for sciatica treatment at home, including
Sciatica Exercises– it might feel unnatural to exercise if you are in pain, research suggests that resting may aggravate leg and back pain. On the other hand, adding gentle sciatica exercises can ease sciatica pain.
Stretching– it is an excellent way of improving range of motion and spinal flexibility, while building spinal and core strength. Some of the gentle stretches that help relieve sciatica pain include- Reclined Pigeon Pose, Supine Twist, Seated Forward Bend, Cat-Cow Stretches and Bird-dogs.
Heating and Ice Packs– alternating ice and heat therapy provides immediate relief for sciatica pain. While heat encourages blood flow to painful points, ice helps in reducing inflammation. They might also ease painful muscle spasms that usually come with sciatica.
Refreshing Posture– staying in the same posture for longer hours might spike sciatica pains and changing posture frequently can reduce the symptoms.
Medication– using over the counter on-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide immediate relief for sciatica pain.
Most causes of sciatica are not under human control, including accidental falls, degenerative disk disease and sciatica due to pregnancy, the following steps would help in protecting the back and reducing the risks-
- Maintaining good posture
- Avoid smoking
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Regular exercises
- Choosing physical activities that are least likely to put strain on your back
- Trying to avoid falls
Sciatica Pain Management
Although sciatica pain can be extreme, it is easily manageable by taking a few steps, including physical therapy, over the counter medication, use of hot and cold packs and maintaining good posture. If properly managed, sciatica pain can also go away permanently, with time.
Al Hilal Hospital, Department of Orthopedics
For early diagnosis and treatment of Sciatica, you need to consult an Orthopedic Doctor at the earliest.
At Al Hilal Hospital Bahrain, Department of Orthopedics, we have highly trained and qualified Orthopedic consultants and surgeons, modern testing facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories, and professional staff, to provide ideal healthcare services to all the patients. Contact Al Hilal Hospital today and get consultation with leading Orthopedic consultant/ surgeon in Bahrain, for early detection and treatment of sciatica and other diseases.