Sciatica occurs when a person experiences pain because the sciatic nerve has some sort of pressure on it.
The sciatic nerve is the longest in the human body running from the lower back down to each leg. It is responsible for controlling all the muscles that surround it.
What Causes Sciatica?
When one of the roots of this nerve becomes compressed or irritated the result is pain in the lower back, feet, buttocks or legs.
It can range from being a minor annoyance to causing excruciating pain. It might also cause numbness or a weakness in your legs.
Keep in mind that sciatica is not actually a medical condition but rather a group of symptoms. Each case is a little different than the next depending on which nerve root is affected and the reason it is affected, in the first place.
People between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to suffer with sciatica. It is not usually caused by becoming injured but is more likely to be a result of simple wear and tear on the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Common symptoms of sciatica include:
- Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.
The pain can be intense but there is almost never permanent damage caused to the sciatic nerve. The pain usually goes away after approximately six weeks, at the most.
When you go to the doctor they will ask a number of questions about your symptoms and how long they have been occurring. They will look closely at your lower back and legs before coming to a conclusion. You might also be asked to perform several exercises that will help the doctor to pinpoint where exactly the problem is.
If the symptoms have been present for longer than six weeks you might need to succumb to x-rays, MRI and a complete blood count test. A blood count will be especially important if you have cancer or AIDS.
Relieving Sciatica Pain
There are many things you can do at home to encourage faster healing and help to stave off some of the pain. Use an ice pack, wrapped in a towel, on the painful area for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time.
This can be done on demand through the course of the day. Mix in a hot pack, or hot shower, to help relax any tight muscles that might be increasing the pressure.
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