Sciatica Nerve Pain

Sciatica Nerve Pain

Sciatica Nerve Pain

Sciatica nerve pain is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself—it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis.

What are the symptoms of sciatica nerve pain?

Sciatica is often characterized by one or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling or searing (vs. a dull ache)
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk

Treatment Option for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter or prescription medications are often effective in reducing or relieving sciatica pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or COX-2 inhibitors), or oral steroids can reduce the inflammation that is usually part of the cause of the pain.

Epidural Steroid Injections for Sciatica

If the pain is severe, an epidural steroid injection can be performed to reduce the inflammation. An epidural injection is different from oral medications because the steroid is injected directly into the painful area around the sciatic nerve to help decrease the inflammation that may be causing the pain.

Acupuncture

The practice is centered on the philosophy of achieving or maintaining well-being through the open flow of energy via specific pathways in the body. Hair-thin needles (that are usually not felt) are inserted into the skin near the area of pain.

Adults with physically demanding occupations

Jobs that require heavy lifting, pushing or twisting can lead to lower back pain. Strenuous jobs that require a lot of movement, or employees to stand on their feet for long periods of time can have significant impacts on back health. These jobs may cause strain on the lower back resulting in mild discomfort to debilitating pain. However, sedentary desk jobs may cause pain due to poor posture. Sitting for extended periods of time puts pressure on the lower back, causing stress for spinal discs.

Massage therapy

Certain forms of massage therapy have been shown to have a number of benefits for back pain, including increased blood circulation, muscle relaxation, and release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers).

What are the causes of sciatica nerve pain?

Pregnancy. The changes that the body goes through during pregnancy, including weight gain, a shift on one’s center of gravity, and hormonal changes, can cause sciatica during pregnancy.

Scar tissue If scar tissue compresses the nerve root, it can cause sciatica.

Muscle strain. In some cases, inflammation related to a muscle strain can put pressure on a nerve root and cause sciatica.

Spinal tumor. In rare cases, a spinal tumor can impinge on a nerve root in the lower back and cause sciatica symptoms.

Infection. While rare, an infection that occurs in the low back can affect the nerve root and cause sciatica.



Physical Therapy and Exercise for Sciatica Nerve Pain

Many exercises can help strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Most of these back exercises focus not only on the lower back, but also the abdominal (stomach) muscles and gluteus (buttocks) and hip muscles.

Taken together, these strong core muscles can provide pain relief because they support the spine, keeping it in alignment and facilitating movements that extend or twist the spine with less chance of injury or damage.

Stretching is usually recommended to alleviate sciatic pain. Stretches for sciatica are designed to target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible.

Hamstring stretching is almost always an important part of a sciatica exercise program.

Some form of low impact cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, swimming or pool therapy is usually a component of recovery, as aerobic activity encourages the exchange of fluids and nutrients to help create a better healing environment.

Aerobic conditioning also has the unique benefit of releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, which helps reduce sciatic pain.