Treatment For Sciatica
Before going over the actual treatments for sciatica, you should know what sciatica is, exactly. The first thing to note is that sciatica is not a medical condition in of itself, by rather it is a term for symptoms that various medical conditions can cause. These causes can range from mild muscle spasms to dangerous displacement of the spine.
Sciatica is named for the sciatic nerve, which runs along the lower back and behind the legs. Sciatica is caused when something causes the sciatic nerve to becomes pinched, injured, or irritated in some way.
When unnatural pressure is applied to the sciatic nerve, the individual will suffer a number of symptoms. These include tingles, burning sensations, pains that range from dull to sharp, weakness, numbness, or even complete loss of movement. The symptoms are typically only felt on the right side of the body. These symptoms make up the bulk of what is known as sciatica.
Treatment for sciatica will depend greatly on what is causing the sciatic nerve to become irritated. Many causes for sciatica involve the spine and the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve runs through each of these portions of the body. Examples for causes of sciatica include an injury or disease weakening or injuring the spine, or the piriformis muscle going into spasms.
In many causes, sciatica is non-serious both in its causes and symptoms. There are often cases in which people can alleviate sciatica themselves, at home. In rare cases, sciatica can be caused by very serious conditions, such as a spinal tumor. For more persistent sciatica cases, a doctor may prescribe medications. Only in the most extreme circumstances will surgery be required to alleviate sciatica.
Physical therapy and exercises will yield great results for many people. Keep in mind that the results are not instant and progress will require hard work. At the time, physical work may even be painful. But the goal of the exercises is to help in the long run.
Stretching and other forms of physical therapy are especially effective if the cause of sciatica is muscle related, such as piriformis syndrome. If the sciatic nerve is being irritated by muscle spasms, then you need to take measures to heal that muscle and get it working properly again.
When we’re in pain, our first instinct is to get plenty of rest. This can be one of the worst things to do in muscle-related sciatica. A muscle that is prone to spasms will only get worse if it is unused and becomes more and more unhealthy. The muscle needs to be used and stretched, eventually becoming healthy and relaxed; even if it hurts a little at first.
Simple stretches that involve the upper leg, buttocks, and lower back work best. Use stretches that involve holds, and avoid exercises with bouncing. Since sciatica symptoms often only affect one side of the body, be sure to focus your stretches on the afflicted side. Speak with your doctor to see which exercises and stretches will work best for you.
For muscle related causes of sciatica, you may also find relief with massage therapy. A massage can work wonders for tense or spasmed muscles. It may be just what your piriformis muscle ordered.
Some form of medication may be required during your battle with sciatica, even if it is just simple over the counter pain killers. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. More powerful pain killers are often only prescribed to patients with very severe sciatica symptoms, or those who have been battling sciatica for a long time with few positive results.
In addition to pain medicine, other medications may be prescribed in extreme cases. These include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medicines, and steroids.
Only in the most severe cases of sciatica will surgery be required. At this point, whatever is causing the sciatica symptoms is likely far more dangerous than sciatica itself. Examples include spinal tumors, or extreme displacement of the spine.
Prior to surgery, a patient will usually receive some form of scan, such as an x-ray or MRI. This will determine the exact cause and location of the problem. Surgery is only likely to be considered if all other treatments have been tried or are deemed unlikely to work.
But perhaps the most effective way to be sciatica free, is to work towards its prevention in the first place.
While some people become afflicted by sciatica in ways that are unforeseeable or unpreventable, there are also many causes that can prevented and avoided.
Certain physical activity can result in sciatica. Hurting the spine with improper lifting or bending can contribute. Be sure to practice good posture, even when sitting or laying down. Avoid heavy lifting, and avoid putting pressure on your back when you do lift things. Always use a dolly or other device for lifting whenever possible. Little by little, doing these things incorrectly can put undue pressure on one side of your spine. This makes your spine a little weaker, day after day. It can make you far more prone to spinal conditions later in life that can result in sciatica and various other painful complications.
Sciatica can also be caused by sudden injury to the spine, in addition to the more passive injuries that are obtained over many years. Sudden trauma can sometimes result in sciatica. Speeders (or people who text while driving) may find themselves in a wreck that they pay for with weeks, or even months of terrible sciatic pain.
Taking good care of your muscles can also help prevent sciatica. Be sure to stretch and exercise regularly. Stretching before an exercise is very important. In fact, sprinting without stretching first is believed to be related to piriformis syndrome; as it can cause this muscle to become tense or even injured.
Sciatica is not to be taken lightly. The symptoms can be a terrible burden, and it is important you know both how to battle sciatica as well as how to prevent it.