Sciatica is a condition represented with low back pain combined with a pain through the buttock and down one leg. It occurs when there is any injury or compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg.
The nerve controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg and the sole of your foot. You will feel pain, weakness, numbness or tingling sensation in those parts of the body when you have sciatica.
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. Natural wear and tear of the vertebrae can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing, called spinal stenosis, may put pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve and may produce symptoms. In rare cases, sciatica may result from tumors growing inside or along the spinal cord or sciatic nerve, infection or injury to nerve due to fracture.
There are steps you can take at home to ease the pain of sciatica. A heating pad or ice pack may be especially helpful. Although bed rest is not recommended, reduce your activity for the first couple of days. Then, slowly start your usual activities after that. Avoid heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins. You should start routine exercising again after 2-3 weeks. A physiotherapist can show you how to gently stretch the hamstring and lower back. Depending on your medical condition, certain exercises may not be recommended. Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide short-term relief from sciatica. Injections, surgery may be needed in certain cases.
If you have had sciatica once, there is a chance that it will return. But there are steps you can take to reduce the odds:
* Exercise regularly.
* Maintain good posture.
* Bend at the knees to lift heavy objects.
The write up is compiled by Physiotherapist Dr Mohammad Ali.