Many people have felt the kind of pain that shoots down their lower back, buttocks, and the back of their leg. This pain is called sciatica. Sciatica pain occurs when the lower back’s nerve roots are irritated. It can be accompanied by tingling, numbness, or weakness.
What Causes Sciatica Pain
Sciatica pain can occur because of trauma to the spine from heavy lifting that causes something to herniate and put pressure on the nerve root. It may also be caused due to a herniated or ruptured disc. Ruptured discs are more common in younger, more active individuals.
For the elderly, bone spurs or arthritis in the spine cause sciatica pain. Also, pregnancy and childbirth can cause a woman to feel sciatica-like pain due to relaxed pelvic ligaments.
In general, those diagnosed with sciatica pain have loved ones who have the same issues. But, no matter the family history, a person can reduce their risk of experiencing sciatica pain by maintaining ideal body weight, keeping their core abdominal muscles strong, and improving their flexibility to minimize lower back stress. Experts also say that nicotine decreases blood flow to the vertebral column, irritating the nerves and increasing nerve pain. Thus, avoiding smoking is one way to reduce one’s chances of Mason sciatica pain.
Treatment for sciatica and the related pain includes the following:
- Physical therapy and exercise. A physical therapist can prescribe specific exercises that a sufferer can perform at home. Physical therapy and exercise strengthen the spine and lower back, hip, buttocks, and abdominal muscles. Also, it focuses on increasing core strength as well as stretching tight and inflexible muscles.
- Massage therapy. Deep tissue therapy may help relieve sciatica pain. It improves blood circulation, relaxes tight muscles, and releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.
- Lumbar therapeutic injections. Epidural steroid injections can be administered when the pain stems from conditions like disc herniation, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disease. Also, selective nerve root blocks are administered to minimize inflammation in the spinal nerve and numb the related pain.
- Surgery. For serious cases of sciatica pain, surgery may be necessary, particularly discectomy to get rid of herniated disc material that pressed on the nerve root, causing pain.
Acute sciatica often gets better with 1-6 weeks of nonsurgical treatment. Sciatica with pain that lasts more than 8 weeks may take a long time to be treated, depending on the underlying cause.