How Is Sciatica Affecting Your Quality Of Life
Sciatica pain may extend all the way from the lower back, through the back of your thigh, to your foot. The pain can come and go, sometimes lingering for days and even weeks. This may cause anything from mild discomfort to making the simplest tasks intolerable. Sitting could be painful with sciatica and driving even more so. Not to mention playing sports and being active.
As you contemplate surgery for sciatica, consider how much the pain affects your quality of life. If your work, hobbies, social life or relationships suffer from your being in constant pain, it may be time to think about surgery.
Although sciatica starts as nerve inflammation, it may eventually progress to nerve damage. If the sciatic nerve is damaged, it could result in numbness, tingling and, in more severe cases, weakness in the knees or legs. The longer it is left untreated, the longer it will take for numbness and weakness to go away, and they may become permanent.
What Are The Treatments For Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the canal in your spinal column that affects mostly people age 50 and older. Nothing can cure it, but there are things you can do on your own, under your doctor’s guidance, to enjoy an active life.
You Have Unexplained Weight Loss
If you experience sudden weight loss that can’t be explained by diet and lifestyle changes, then you should always pay attention to what your body is telling you. This is especially true when the unexplained weight loss is accompanied by back pain. See your doctor to rule out the possibility of a more severe condition, such as an infection or tumor.
Also Check: Where Does Back Pain Come From
Is The Weight Of Pregnancy The Reason Why So Many Pregnant Women Get Sciatica
Its true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The babys weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.
The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.
How Is A Herniated Disc/pinched Nerve Diagnosed
A neurological history and examination performed by a trained physician will provide the most objective evidence of a herniated disc and pinched nerve. There are no laboratory tests that can detect the presence or absence of a herniated disc, but they may be helpful in diagnosing unusual causes of nerve root pain and irritation. An EMG may help to determine which nerve root in particular is being pinched or is not working normally in the situation where several nerve roots may be involved. An MRI is the test of choice for diagnosing a herniated disc.
Recommended Reading: How To Help A Bulging Disc In Lower Back
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
What If The Symptoms Are Extreme Could It Be Cauda Equina
The symptoms of Cauda Equina classically include low back pain, bilateral leg pain, disturbance of urine flow with incontinence and similarly incontinence of the bowel. Also, there is numbness in the groin or sitting region known as the saddle area.If Cauda Equina syndrome is suspected, however, it is important to seek specialist medical assessment immediately. The condition is rarely straightforward to diagnose and requires a scan. It is not however common.
Recommended Reading: Does Lack Of Sex Cause Back Pain
Sciatica Symptoms Or Something Else
Sciatica isnt the only reason for pain in the legs, ofcourse. Other conditions can mimic sciatica:
- Vascular disease: Narrowing of the bloodvessels in the legs can cause pain and cramps and might make it hard to walk.
- Peripheral neuropathy: Small nerves inthe legs can become damaged, causing burning, pain, tingling or numbness in thefoot or lower leg. This type of nerve damage is often related to diabetes,alcohol use disorder or other medical conditions.
- Peroneal neuropathy: An injury to the peroneal nerve below the knee can cause weakness and make it hard to lift the foot.
How can you tell if youre dealing with sciatica orsomething else? Sciatica tends to affect the length of the leg, not just thefoot. And most often, that pain radiates downward from top to bottom, Dr.Thomas says.
Another clue: Sciatica usually strikes just one side. If you have pain in both legs, it is less likely a disc herniation, but more likely due to degenerative changes like spinal stenosis, he says.
Sciatica Vs Back Pain: How Do They Differ
The term back pain can be used to describe a range of symptoms that occur from muscle strain or injury to the bone structures or nerves along the spine. Sciatica is a very specific type of pain radiating from the longest nerve in the body, the sciatica nerve, which is distinctively felt in the lower back, buttocks and down the leg and/or foot, and usually occurs on one side of the body.
Here, leading neurosurgeon Mrs Anne Mitchener explains the difference between sciatica and back pain and the long-term options for when it comes to treating sciatica.
Read Also: How To Relieve Back Pain Fast
Symptoms And Signs Of Sciatica
In patients with sciatica, pain radiates along the course of the sciatic nerve , most often down the buttocks and posterior aspect of the leg to below the knee. The pain is typically burning, lancinating, or stabbing. It may occur with or without low back pain. The Valsalva maneuver or coughing may worsen pain due to disk herniation. Patients may complain of numbness and sometimes weakness in the affected leg.
Nerve root compression Spinal Cord Compression Various lesions can compress the spinal cord, causing segmental sensory, motor, reflex, and sphincter deficits. Diagnosis is by MRI. Treatment is directed at relieving compression. (See also… read more can cause sensory, motor, or, the most objective finding, reflex deficits. L5-S1 disk herniation may affect the ankle jerk reflex L3-L4 herniation may affect the knee jerk.
How Long Does Sciatica In Pregnancy Last
A 2008 review estimates between 50 and 80 percent of women experience lower back pain in pregnancy, but its highly unlikely to actually be sciatica.
Occasionally the position of your baby can add pressure to the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica. Depending on whether your babys position changes, the pain may last for the remainder of your pregnancy, come and go, or disappear. It should fully resolve after your baby is born.
You May Like: What Works For Back Pain
Find Back Pain Relief With Equilibrium:
If you have been living with back pain or sciatica, dont hesitate to contact Equilibrium for safe and effective treatment options. Our highly-trained Victoria physiotherapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, osteopaths and registered massage therapists will design an individualized treatment plan just for you. In order to provide you with immediate pain relief, you may be prescribed any combination of ice and heat therapies, manual therapy, posture improvement, targeted stretches, and exercises, or other treatments that our practitioners deem fit.
As you improve throughout your treatment program, your exercises and stretches will become more intense over time. This is done in order to improve your strength and range of motion. Those diagnosed with sciatica will also likely be prescribed specific leg stretches, in order to loosen up the areas around the sciatic nerve.
At Equilibrium, our main goals are to help you relieve your pain, improve your strength, and reach your optimum levels of function. If your back pain or sciatica symptoms have been limiting your daily life, Contact Us Today at Victoria, BC Center or book an appointment today! We will help you reach your physical goals so you can get back to living your daily life, free from back pain or sciatica discomfort.
How To Fix Bad Sciatic Pain
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 280,307 times.
Experts say that sciatic pain, called sciatica, is typically caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of your spine. Typically, sciatica causes radiating pain that starts in your lower back may radiate through your buttocks, hip, and thigh.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Research suggests that most people with sciatic pain improve in a few weeks with self care. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers and rest may help you manage your pain.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
You May Like: How To Relieve Pain From Bulging Disc In Lower Back
Sciatica Causes And Risk Factors
Sciatica results from irritation of the root of your lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.
Additional common causes of sciatica include:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disk disease
- Muscle spasm in the back or buttocks
Other things that may make you more likely to have sciatica include:
- Your job, especially if it involves driving for long periods of time, twisting your back, or carrying heavy things
Will My Sciatica Come Back
Sciatica can and does come back, especially when a person has a chronic medical condition.
People who do not make lifestyle changes to prevent more sciatic pain may also redevelop symptoms. However, for most people, sciatica heals on its own within a month or two.
Sciatica usually goes away on its own, with or without treatment.
A doctor can diagnose the cause of sciatica and may prescribe treatment to speed healing.
However, sciatica is not a medical emergency, and it is fine to wait to see whether the symptoms resolve on their own before visiting a doctor.
It is advisable to see a doctor if:
- sciatic pain interferes with daily functioning
- sciatica lasts longer than 3 months
- sciatica goes away and then comes back
- the pain is unbearable or gets steadily worse
Although the outlook for most people with sciatica is good, those with chronic sciatica face a longer and more complicated recovery.
Read Also: Why My Lower Back Is Hurting
Questions To Answer Before Considering Sciatica Surgery
Sciatica is the type of pain that originates in your lower back and typically radiates down one or both of your legs. It results from the inflammation of the sciatic nerve in your lower back. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy: pinching of a nerve as it exits the spine.
Surgery is one of the treatment options for sciatica, but it’s not for everyone. Below are some important questions to consider before making your decision.
Physical Therapy For Spinal Stenosis
A physical therapy program can go a long way toward easing your symptoms and can also help with:
One study found that a formal physical therapy program was just as good as surgery to improve everyday function. In that study, people did bends, pelvic tilts, standing squats, and other exercises.
Spinal stenosis exercises
Exercise, along with good eating habits, can help you slim down if youâre overweight. This will ease the strain on your spine. Even if you do decide to have surgery, exercising afterward can boost your recovery. But youâll need to start slowly. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that can help you:
- Gain flexibility: Stretching exercises can help with pain and make it easier to hold and move your neck and spine in healthier ways.
- Strengthen your muscles: A series of exercises called stabilization training can help build up the muscles that support your neck and give them better balance. Like stretching, these are simple exercises you can do at home without any special equipment.
- Boost your fitness: Aerobic exercises, ones that get your heart and breathing rates up, release chemicals called endorphins that can ease pain. Examples of aerobic exercise include bicycling or swimming.
There’s no one right way to exercise with this condition — and you donât want to overdo it. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist for ideas.
Don’t Miss: Can Trichomoniasis Cause Back Pain
Risk Factors For Sciatic Nerve Pain
Common risk factors include:
- Age people in their 30s and 40s have a higher risk of developing sciatica.
- Profession jobs that require lifting heavy loads for long periods.
- Sedentary lifestyle people who sit for long periods and are physically inactive are more likely to develop sciatica, compared with active people.
Sciatica Or Other Back Pain
Up to 85% of Americans experience some type of back pain during their lives. But this doesn’t always involve the sciatic nerve. In many cases, back pain is the result of overextending or straining the muscles in the lower back. What most often sets sciatica apart is the way the pain radiates down the leg and into the foot. It may feel like a bad leg cramp that lasts for days.
Read Also: What Causes Painful Back Spasms
What To Do If Its Getting Worse
Sciatica often responds to home treatment, but you should see a medical professional first to make sure youre dealing with sciatica. If you havent already tried treating your symptoms at home, you may find the following methods helpful:
- Cold. Try applying an ice pack or cold compress to the painful area for about 20 minutes several times a day.
- Hot. You can apply hot packs or heating pads to the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day after the first couple of days to stimulate blood flow to the injured area.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen can help you manage pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Physical therapy, stretching, and exercise: A physical therapist can help you strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight muscles that may be contributing to your pain. The United Kingdoms National Health Service recommends resuming normal activities and gentle exercise as soon as possible. Always perform these activities under the guidance of a professional.
No Pain No Gain Mindset
This is a great way to build mental toughness, but a TERRIBLE way to rehabilitate your lower back. You need to learn how to pace yourself appropriately when returning from a back injury. You need to think of yourself like a marathon runner rather than a sprinter. If you come off the starting line at a 4-minute mile pace you are going to crash and burn before you know it.
Healing and pain are NOT the same thing. Asking, how long will it take to heal? is a totally different question than how long will it take for the pain to go away? You can be Pain Free with a back that is still healing if you learn how to pace appropriately. Avoiding painful postures can help desensitize angry nerves. Allowing you to do more activity with less pain over time.
Words of Wisdom: Understanding that hurt does does equal harm is just as important. A little bit of pain here and there is ok, but keep it to a minimum. If you can only tolerate walking, shopping, house work, etc. for a short period of time you need to do shorter, more frequent bouts of activity. This strategy over time will lead to steady progress without set backs.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Lower Back Cramps
You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week
Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.
Box : Clinical Guideline For Diagnosis And Treatment Of Sciatica From Dutch College Of General Practicew4
- Check for red flag conditions, such as malignancies, osteoporotic fractures, radiculitis, and cauda equina syndrome
- Take a history to determine localisation severity loss of strength sensibility disorders duration course influence of coughing, rest, or movement and consequences for daily activities
- Carry out a physical examination, including neurological testingfor example, straight leg raising test
- Carry out the following tests in cases with a dermatomal pattern, or positive result on straight leg raising test, or loss of strength or sensibility disorders: reflexes , sensibility of lateral and medial sides of feet and toes, strength of big toe during extension, walking on toes and heel , crossed Lasègue’s sign
- Imaging or laboratory diagnostic tests are only indicated in red flag conditions but are not useful in cases of suspected disc herniation
Also Check: Why Do I Have Upper Back Pain