Have you been diagnosed with sciatica; or do you feel pain radiating through your lower extremities, from your buttocks and hips to legs and feet? Let’s look at the causes of sciatic nerve pain and ways to curb the symptoms.
What causes sciatic nerve pain?
Sciatic nerve pain is actually a symptom of numerous medical conditions. The disorder most closely associated with sciatica is a damaged (either bulging or herniated) lumbar spinal disk. Either the disk or its contents (nucleus pulposus) impinges the roots of the sciatic nerve, leading to pain, tingling, or numbness.
Spinal stenosis, another root cause of sciatica, occurs when the spinal canal gradually contracts as we age, leading to impingement of the nerve.
A third chief cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome. In this condition, the piriformis muscle in the buttocks becomes excessively rigid, infringing on the nerve’s pathway. Piriformis syndrome is also called wallet sciatica syndrome because sitting on your wallet for an extended period can stress the piriformis – and, in turn, the sciatic nerve.
Finally, sciatic symptoms can arise when a woman is pregnant because the fetus might be lying against the nerve. There are additional causes of sciatica as well, but those are a few of the most common.
Changing your activities
One of the best ways to protect yourself from pain is prevention. What kinds of activities lead to flareups? “Mechanical lumbar syndromes are typically aggravated by static loading of the spine (eg, prolonged sitting or standing), by long lever activities (eg, vacuuming or working with the arms elevated and away from the body), or by levered postures (eg, bending forward),” explains Medscape.
Five (5) DIY treatments
There are also numerous at-home methods that are useful in treating the immediate pain of a sciatica flareup:
- Ice packs: Treat the area with ice. Apply the ice to the tailbone, buttocks, or lower back for 15-20 minutes every couple of hours.
- Heat: You can try using heat for a few days when the pain strikes. Don’t go over 20 minutes when you heat. Many doctors believe alternating between hot and cold therapies can be particularly healing.
- Anti-inflammatories: Although anti-inflammatories can be helpful for limited use to reduce swelling, bear in mind that pain medications can have serious side-effects – including, in some cases, causing additional pain.
- Herbs: Typical herbal therapies for sciatica include turmeric, rosemary, and tulsi.
- Hydration: If you don’t get enough water, “[t]his can cause adhesions between the sciatic nerve and the tissue surrounding the area,” notes Joint Essential. “Adhesions increase scarring inside and prevent healing.”
Partnership for recovery
Are you suffering with the pain of sciatica? Often the above strategies do not suffice. At Envista Medical, we work with you to develop a holistic plan that uses non-surgical, minimally invasive methods for pain treatment.