What Is Sciatica?
The term sciatica can sound like a scary word, but the truth is, it is simply the label attached to the painful symptoms most often felt running from the lower back, through the buttock area, on down through the thighs, and to the back of the knees. On occasion, the pain heads down to the feet as well. This electrifying pain stems from pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve.
If you have read my bio, you know that I suffer from sciatica as well. As a longtime runner, my joy of running and any other physical activity I participate in has been robbed. Because this is not acceptable to me, my mission has become helping others find answers to sciatica pain relief through my successes and failures. I do this via education on sciatica, remedies that can help, and products that work for me through the reviews that I provide. Be sure to check out the additional articles on this website that provide more detail on what can be done.
What Are Symptoms of Sciatica?
The symptoms of sciatica are very similar for most people. Most commonly, they occur only on one side, but on occasion . . . it gets both. I have the misfortune of both sides.
The following list provides items you might experience.
- Tightness and pain in the lower back.
- A large painful knot in the buttocks. You might even feel heat coming from it.
- Burning sensation in the posterior compartment of the leg.
- Pain that radiates down the legs.
- Discomfort in the back or buttocks while sitting.
- Uncomfortable buttock pain after walking or running
- Muscle imbalance
What Causes Sciatica?
In a very generic explanation, the cause of sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve. However, sciatica pain is often triggered from spine conditions associated with age and wear-and-tear. Trauma can also play a part in current and future issues.
Years ago, before my sciatica revealed itself, I had gone to the doctor for chronic back pain. After the examination, I was sent out for X-rays to make sure nothing was broken and that bone spurs were not touching the nerves. The results came back, and I was told that it was simply a little bit of deterioration of a couple of discs, but nothing to do or worry about. It was a result of age and wear and tear.
The following is a list of some of the most common causes of sciatica:
- Degenerative Disc Disease – Simply put, this is a breakdown of the little cushion discs in between your vertebrae.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – This is when the spinal canal starts to narrow in the lower back.
- Spondylolisthesis – A condition in which a vertebra slips over another one.
- Herniated Disc – Also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc, is when the softer jelly-like material leaks from the disc.
- Piriformis Syndrome – The piriformis muscle is located near the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, and is the closest muscle to the sciatic nerve. When your piriformis muscle is tight, is inflamed, or spasms, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing the pain associated with sciatica.
I do a lot of sitting at my computer for work, maybe even enough to be considered unhealthy. With that being the case, I know that part of my issue is from the tight muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve, including the piriformis. I can say that I have done a better job at getting up and walking around every half hour or so, plus I have implemented a daily routine of stretching exercises, which seems to keep the pain under control. If you struggle to find the piriformis muscle to stretch it out really good, I recommend the Piri-Stretcher by Miracle Stretch.
What Can I Do To Ease Sciatica?
Please note, that the suggested treatments and remedies throughout this website are meant to ease sciatica pain and may not be a permanent solution. If your symptoms have not shown any response or intensify, surgery is also an option. You should speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of any procedures. Read my article on when you should see a doctor immediately about your sciatica pain by clicking HERE.
Here are some less invasive options:
- Stretching Exercises – The internet is such a wonderful resource for finding a number of stretching exercises and yoga poses to help ease sciatica pain. Many of them do a great job stretching and strengthening the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve, especially the troublesome piriformis muscle. You can get immediate relief when you stretch the muscles properly, so give it a try!
- Inflammation Reduction – Reducing inflammation within the body is a great way to help ease sciatica pain. When the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve become inflamed, they can put pressure on the nerve itself, triggering the unbearable pains. Although natural inflammation can be good because it helps protect the body from foreign substances and heal itself, chronic inflammation can lead to various health issues including heart disease and cancer. The good news is that inflammation can be reduced by simply making small changes to the diet and incorporating natural foods that you can find right at the grocery store. Here are two articles from this site to help give you some direction. 6 Sensational Natural Anti-Inflammatory Herbs And Spices To Help With Sciatica Pain Relief and How To Reduce Workout Inflammation.
- Acupuncture – This is a traditional Chinese treatment that uses needles to help balance the energy flow in the body, using specific points of entry. This therapy is used for a number of ailments, but can help stimulate the nerves and muscles. I have always been nervous about getting shots when going to the doctor, but I don’t mind the needles at all for acupuncture because you can’t even feel them in most spots.
- Improved Posture – Improving your posture while sitting can help your sciatica pain, by reducing pressure on the supporting muscles. If you are like many people who work behind a desk, you have lots of opportunity to work on this. Some workers can be sitting for up to 90% of the workday, which for most people, totals about 7.2 hours. Plus, there is MORE sitting on the commute to and from the office. If your workplace is very regulation oriented, you probably have received literature on how to properly sit at your work station. Sometimes the instructions can be pretty detailed, but here are some basic points:
- Sit back all the way in your chair, with your rear touching the end.
- Keep the back straight and shoulders back.
- Support the natural curves in the back if possible, using rolled towels or a lumbar support cushion.
- Have your body weight evenly distributed on both hips.
- Knees should be bent at a right angle.
- Feet should be kept flat on the floor.
- Additional Options – In my article 4 Home Remedies For Sciatic Nerve Pain, I discuss the benefits of massages, hot and cold therapy, over the counter pain medication, and topical cream, oils, and patches. Click the title link to read the article or click Here.
As for me, I like to experiment with products specifically designed for sciatica pain. If you take a look at the right sidebar, you will see some of them I have tried and written product reviews on.
Starting with the least invasive and least expensive options in the trouble-shooting process can potentially save you thousands of dollars. I encourage you to check out the other articles on this website, as new references, remedies, and product reviews are constantly being added.
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I wish you the very best of luck in your journey to find sciatica pain relief!