Not sure whether or not you’re experiencing sciatica? Read below for the top five questions about sciatica explained.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is nerve pain that occurs along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back into the buttocks and the legs.
The pain typically starts in the spinal area and then feels as though it’s radiating through the buttocks. As the pain travels down the leg (usually one leg), the pain may alternate between radiating pain, tingling pain, numbness, and sharper burning pains in one leg area, especially when you move in certain ways.
If you’re still not sure whether or not the pain you’re experiencing is sciatic pain, stand up and raise the leg that hurts straight-up as far as you can. If the pain increases at a particular point, you’re likely suffering from sciatica.
How Can I Prevent Sciatica?
Like many aches and pains, sciatica can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Stretching and exercising regularly go a long way toward prevention. Making healthy food choices is also a key factor in sciatica prevention. Avoid processed foods, margarine, sodas, excess caffeine, and refined sugars.
Also, make sure to wear clothing and shoes that aren’t too tight or restrict blood flow.
Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched. It often occurs when a bone spur, herniated disk, or narrowing of the spine restricts part of the nerve. This compression results in inflammation and pain.
Some triggers include:
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Being Overweight
- Prior Injuries
If you’re experiencing sciatica, start by sitting up straight! If your work requires you to be sedentary, make sure you have proper seating with good lumbar support. Next, stretch and exercise. Not only does physical fitness prevent sciatica, but it also treats sciatica.
Choose exercises that strengthen your core muscles, which directly impact spinal alignment. Choose stretches that build the support muscles around your spine, as well as those that relax the spinal and hip areas.
Alternating ice and heat therapies also provide immediate temporary relief. Heat will increase blood flow, and ice will reduce inflammation.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Sciatica tends to only last four to eight weeks. If sciatica symptoms last longer than this or recur periodically, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider will guide you through advanced options for prevention, pain relief, and physical therapy. Schedule an appointment today with our experts at Commonwealth Spine & Pain Specialists.