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Sciatica: This is Everything You Need to Know

June 02, 2017 in Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a term that is used to describe a condition of leg pain, tingling, and numbness that travels along the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the legs. This condition is also known as radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a more broad definition that encompasses the set of conditions that involve any painful nerve in the body. This condition however, deals specifically with sciatic nerve pain. Learn more about the symptoms, causes, treatments, and more.

Symptoms: Do I Have Sciatic Nerve Pain?

The most obvious of sciatica symptoms is a radiating pain on one side of your body that can extend from the lower back all the way down the back of your thigh and even down your entire leg. The article Sciatica symptoms: This is How it Feels to Have Sciatic Nerve Pain describes sciatic nerve pain symptoms in greater detail. If you experience more than one of the following symptoms you may be experiencing sciatic nerve pain:

  • Constant pain on one side of the body
  • Pain that continues along the sciatic nerve (back of the thigh, buttocks, lower leg, foot)
  • Pain worsens sitting or standing
  • Pain feels like a sharp and shooting sensation
  • Numbness and tingling sensation

A masseur massaging a calf.

Causes: Where is this pain coming from?

Irritation of the sciatic nerve most commonly occurs as a result of another medical condition relating to the lower back. Genetics, the natural aging process, and injuries, all play a role in these types of medical conditions that contribute to the cause.

Sciatica can originate from a number of other ailments or injuries. Read Sciatica Causes: Where is my Sciatica Pain Coming From? for greater detail on the origins of sciatic nerve pain. The following are potential sources of sciatic nerve pain:

  • Lumbar herniated disc
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscle strain

Sciatica diagram.

Risk Factors for Sciatica

This ailment affects a wide range of individuals. There are, however, certain risk factors to take into consideration that cause certain individuals to be more prone to developing sciatica than others. A few of these include:

  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Activity levels
  • Obesity

Treatment and Relief: Which treatment is best for you?

There are a variety of drug treatments, invasive treatments, and non-invasive treatments that can ease sciatic pain. A regular massage appointment could be effective for some, whereas a surgery could be necessary for another.

Always consult and doctor before selecting the treatment for your sciatic nerve pain. There are several techniques to soothe sciatic nerve pain, including:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antidepressants
  • Pain medications
  • Surgery
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • TENS therapy

A woman with TENS pads on her leg.

Exercises: 6 At-Home Stretches for Sciatic Nerve Pain

One of the primary purposes of these stretches is to strengthen the back and core muscles to ensure the spine is properly supported. The following exercises helps with sciatic nerve pain and can be seen in further detail in the article Sciatica Exercises: 6 At-Home Exercises for Sciatic Nerve Pain. You can also read more on at-home treatments for Sciatica.

1. Standing hamstring stretch

standing hamstring stretch
Find out how to do this pose >>

2. Sitting spine stretch

sitting spine stretch
Find out how to do this pose >>

3. Knee to shoulder stretch

knee to shoulder stretch
Find out how to do this pose >>

4. Reclining pigeon pose

Reclining pigeon pose
Find out how to do this pose >>

5. Forward pigeon pose

pigeon pose
Find out how to do this pose >>

6. Sitting pigeon pose

sciatica exercises pigeon pose
Find out how to do this pose >>

Click here for 5 yoga poses for sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica Cure: Is there one?

Treating and potentially curing this condition is based on the origin of the sciatic nerve pain being experienced. The most invasive and extreme form of treatment that can cure sciatica is surgery. Learn more in the comprehensive article Is There a Cure for Sciatica?. A variety of proposed cures and effective treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Innovation technology

Man talking to his doctor.

Get more information on sciatic nerve pain

If you believe you may suffer from sciatic nerve pain, contact your doctor or health professional to discuss your concerns and symptoms. For more information on the seriousness of this condition and how it can be treated with non-invasive at-home treatments, check out our Hip & Leg Pain page for more on leg pain or learn more about how to relieve unexpected nerve pain at home.

Download the Free Sciatica Pain Management Plan for more. Discover more detailed information and educational videos by exploring DR-HO'S Living Pain-Free content:

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