An ache or tingling that runs down the back and possibly all the way through the legs may be an indication of sciatic nerve pain. The condition, also known as sciatica, is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body.
In recent times, there has been an increase in the cases of sciatic pain and this could be because many of us spend a fair share of the day sitting. To avoid or reduce the occurrence of sciatic nerve pain, it is advised to use an ergonomic chair, especially if your work involves long hours of sitting; getting up and stretching every hour or so is recommended too.
Causes and Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by a compressed sciatic nerve; this compression can occur due to the herniation of the lumbar disc and other conditions like:
- Irritation of the nerve from adjacent bones
- Internal bleeding
- Degenerative arthritis
- Piriformis syndrome
Sciatic nerve pain is characterized by pain that radiates from the lower spine down the back of the legs causing discomfort, pain and tingling along the sciatic nerve and its branches.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sciatica
The diagnosis of sciatica involves a series of muscle tests and the following imaging tests to pinpoint the cause of sciatica:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Spinal X-ray to determine the presence of tumors
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
Sciatica is a symptom, not a condition, which means that its treatment begins with identifying the root cause of the pain.
Here are some common treatment strategies that many people follow:
- Home remedies like stretching, simple exercises, alternating hot and cold packs, over-the-counter pain medications and rest
- Physical therapy for sciatica pain that may last for more than a week
- More aggressive treatments like prescription pain medications or corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation
- Natural remedies, acupuncture and massage to relieve pain and inflammation
Maintaining a good posture is essential for preventing back pain and related conditions. It is also essential to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. Individuals with sciatica may also benefit from yoga, which offers numerous poses for maintaining good posture.
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