The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body. It is made up of several individual nerve roots that start branching out from the lower back at the lumbar segment. It runs from the lower back into the buttocks going through the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve passes through the thigh, calf, foot and toes. Sciatica occurs if the sciatic nerve is compressed, pinched or irritated along its length. Some lower back issues such as lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis etc cause sciatic pain. Infections or spinal tumours can also cause sciatica.
The sciatic pain is characterized by constant pain in just one side of the leg or buttock, weakness, numbness or a sharp tingling sensation running through the leg. Leg pain is burning or searing. Symptoms can be varying depending upon the area where the nerve is pinched. The sciatic pain can be infrequent and irritating and sometimes it can be frequent and devastating. If the sciatica symptoms are worsening day by day, immediate medical care is required.
Rare sciatic symptoms require immediate medical treatment that can be surgical intervention. Most of the patients who go through sciatic pain revive through non-surgical treatments. To avoid the surgical treatment of sciatica some other types of treatments can also be applied.
In case of acute sciatic pain hot or ice packs can be used to relieve pain in the initial stages. These packs can be applied for about 20 minutes a few times daily.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to relieve the sciatic pain. Oral steroids can also be used to reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants are also effective for short term alleviation of pain.
In case of severe pain epidural steroid injections can also be used to reduce inflammation. They are more effective than the medications as they reach the area in pain directly and reduce the inflammation that might be causing the pain.
Chiropractors, physicians or trained health professionals can perform spinal adjustments through manual manipulation.
Massage increase the blood circulation induce the release the natural pain relievers, the endorphins. Muscle relaxation is one of the benefits of the massage therapy.
Some patients tend to remain on non-surgical for as long as possible. They might have a working combination of more than 2 non-surgical treatments helping them to alleviate pain. Along with the other non-surgical treatments, exercises can also be very helpful.
Several exercises help in strengthening the spinal cord and the muscles around it. These exercises not only focus on back but also on the muscles of the stomach and thighs. If the core muscles are strong they can help in relieving the pain.
Stretching can be very helpful in relieving pain. These exercises are meant to target the inflexible and tight muscles. Hamstring stretch is one of the most recommended type of stretching exercises. Along with this Bird Dog move and Plank Bird Dog move are also pain relievers.
Low impact aerobic exercises
Aerobic exercises enable the exchange of fluids and nutrients that can help in creating a healthy environment. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging and swimming etc are very supportive in recovery. Water therapy in warm water is also very effective in case of high level of sciatic pain. Aerobic exercises also help in the release endorphins. These exercises can be done separately or in combination. Yoga includes both strengthening and stretching at the same time. it can be even more pain alleviating.