Sciatic nerve pain can be pretty brutal. Sometimes it feels like a burning rope running along your lower back to your foot or like a razor digging in with even the slight- est movements. While the level and type of pain people suffer varies, sciatic nerve pain is typically continual, meaning there is little to no relief from pain throughout the course of each day.
According to Harvard Medical School, 40 percent of people experience some type of sciatic nerve pain.
Sciatica refers to the pain across the sciatic nerve that travels from the lower back to the hips, butt, and down each leg. The Mayo Clinic cites symptoms such as a mild ache to sharp burning sensations, a jolt or electric shock when sneezing or coughing, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the legs or feet. Remember to talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Commonly, sciatica occurs when a herniated disc compresses part of a nerve. Hopkins Medicine cites spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, bone spurs, or tumors as other possible causes. Like everything when aging, discs weaken over time, especially after years of bending or having a profession where you sit at a computer all day. That cubical can be dangerous after all, huh?
While most cases are mild and will clear up in a few weeks, others require surgery when the sciatic episodes happen more frequently.
Treatment includes taking medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help with pain and swelling. Using an ice pack throughout the day can also minimize discomfort. Steroid pills and injections may be an option, but researchers at the Jour-
nal of the American Medical Association recently discovered that people who took them experienced little if any improvement.
To avoid sciatica, the Mayo
Clinic suggests daily exercises involving core muscles (abdomen and lower back). Practicing better posture can eliminate episodes. Incorporating stretches in your morning routine or practicing yoga can also strengthen your spine. Yoga can strengthen you mentally as well. Taking time to just focus on your breathing and shut out all distractions can improve your overall health.
When the pain has not subsided, made it difficult to do daily activities, interfered with regular bowel movements, or caused muscle weakness, then surgery is the best option according to the Laser Spine Institute. In the surgery, only the part of the herniated disc that is pinch- ing the nerve is removed.
No one should just live with sciatic nerve pain. Incorporating small changes into your daily schedule can eliminate symptoms. There’s also no shame in asking for help when the pain becomes unbearable. Always remember to talk to your doctor when common practices fail.
1. Reclining pigeon pose
2. Sitting pigeon pose
3. Forward pigeon pose
4. Knee to opposite shoulder
5. Sitting spinal stretch
6. Standing hamstring stretch
Written by: Julie Jernigan