Dr. Mark S. Cantieri • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks and down your thigh and calf. Corrective Care treats sciatica as welll as other types of back pain.
The type of pain experienced by those with sciatica can range from a mild ache to numbness or tingling, to a sharp jolt like an electric shock, or even a burning sensation. Usually sciatica will only affect one side or the other.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched. This is most often a symptom of another problem, such as a herniated disk, a bone spur on the spine,
or spinal stenosis, which is when the narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve, such as from a tumor. However, it can also be cause by nerve damage resulting from diabetes, although this is more rare. These things can cause inflammation, pain and sometime numbness in your leg.
The pain associated with sciatica can be severe, but in most cases the pain can reduced with non-operative treatments in a few weeks.
People with a case of severe sciatica sometimes experience weakness in their leg, or even changes in their ability to control their bowels or bladder. In those cases, surgery might be necessary.
Sciatica usually diminishes and goes away over time. If your pain lasts longer than a week or even gets worse, you may need to call your orthopedic doctor. You should seek immediate medical attention if you have sudden, severe pain and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg following an accident, such as a fall or car accident, or if you have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder.
Risk factors of Sciatica
Risk factors for sciatica include:
Age. Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.
Obesity. By increasing the stress on your spine, excess body weight can contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
Occupation. A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods might play a role in sciatica, but there's no conclusive evidence of this link.
Prolonged sitting. People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.
Diabetes. This condition, which affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage.
It's not always possible to prevent sciatica, but these suggestions can help play a key role in protecting your back:
Exercise regularly. To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment.
Maintain proper posture when you sit. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
Use good body mechanics. If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.