If you know anyone with sciatica, you know what excruciating pain they have from this condition. Sciatica is the result of the sciatic nerve becoming irritated and inflamed. It is a common cause of low back pain and leg pain. It is usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc.
Sciatica occurs most often in people 30 to 50 years of age and can be a debilitating disorder in some people. It normally only affects one side of the lower extremities, and the pain often radiates from the lower back all the way down the back of the thigh and the leg. Depending on where this nerve is affected, the pain may also radiate to the foot or toes.
There are many causes for sciatica so when you feel the symptoms of this condition, you need to see your doctor so he can determine the cause for the sciatic pain. Here are some of the causes for sciatica.
v Herniated disk – When one of the vertebral discs of the lower back protrudes outward and compress the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve, sciatica can result. This compression irritates the nerve and causes swelling and pain along the sciatic nerve. Herniated discs are the most common cause of sciatica.
v Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – Lumbar spinal stenosis signifies a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back region. When it becomes narrow in this area, the spinal canal can compress portions of the nerves that combine to form the sciatic nerve.
v Piriformis Syndrome – The piriformis is a small muscle located deep in the buttock region that assists in abducting (lifting out) and externally rotating the hip joint. The sciatic nerve runs very close to the piriformis muscle, and sometimes runs through it. Because of this, when the piriformis muscle becomes tight, it often puts pressure on the sciatic nerve causing irritation and inflammation.
Stretching and strengthening exercises that target the muscles of the lower back, abdomen, and thighs can help reduce the symptoms of sciatica. However, everybody is different so you need to make sure that the exercises are customized to your body and situation. Many patients do the exercises and find they are in worse pain the next day. Also, the exercises, as good as they can be, are temporary solutions. But though temporary, exercises will help relieve symptoms so they shouldn’t be overlooked. To make sure you are performing the correct exercises for you, ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist who is expert in this field. They will be able to construct a proper exercise routine that will suit your needs. Together, you will be able formulate the right plan to bring relief for sciatica.
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