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Sciatica

Sciatica - Common Back Pain Problem

Sciatica is quite a common back pain problem that may affect most of us at some point in our lives to varying degrees. It may be so mild as not to cause too much pain and disappear of its own accord, or more seriously, could be a sign of an underlying illness and may in extreme circumstances require surgery.

Sciatic pain is a form of back pain caused by pressure on a nerve, affecting the lower half of the body. The pain is usually felt in the buttock or down the back of the leg and sometimes below the knee or into the foot. If symptoms include actual back pain, then the back pain itself is normally less severe than the pain in the leg.

Sufferers of Sciatica may also feel a strange tingling, numbness within the leg and possible muscle weakness. Standing for prolonged periods may also exacerbate the symptoms making the sufferer desperate to sit or lie down to relieve the pain.

What causes Sciatica?

The Sciatic Nerve runs from the base of the spine and down the back of the thigh to the knee. Compression or damage of this nerve, usually at the place where it leaves the spine, causes Sciatic Pain.

In young and early middle-aged adults, the most common cause of sciatica is a prolapsed intervertebral disc in the lumbosacral area of the lower back.

Older people with conditions such as Osteoarthritis may experience changes within the spine causing localised pressure on the nerve, or Spinal Stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal).

In some cases, just sitting awkwardly may induce Sciatica without the sufferer realising.

However, symptoms such as loss of sensation around the genital area and buttocks, difficulty passing water or opening your bowels, or progressive weakness require urgent medical assessment.

Sciatica - sciatic nerve pain - back pain


How to relieve Sciatica

Sciatica although uncomfortable, may pass without taking any treatment. However should the symptoms persist and the pain increases then your GP may prescribe Painkillers, Anti inflammatory drugs, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic treatments or Epidural injections.

If none of the above stop the problem then surgery may be the next option.

However it is important, if possible to minimise the risk of further symptoms of Sciatica by keeping as fit and healthy as realistically possible (consult your GP if you have any concerns about taking regular exercise), maintain a healthy weight, make sure you lift heavy objects correctly and take time to ensure you’re posture is correct.
 
As mentioned earlier, just sitting in an uncomfortable position for long periods can lead to the symptoms of Sciatic pain.