Have you ever had a weird pain in your back?
Not a general ache, more like a burning pain that runs from your upper thigh all the way down to your toes? What about a nagging pain in your lower back that spreads into your buttocks? Have you felt any numbness or tingling in your leg? You may be experiencing something called Sciatica!
Sciatic Nerve Pain (also called Sciatica) often gets lumped in with general back pain but is something different. Sciatica is defined as the pain we experience when our sciatic nerve is compressed. The pain usually only affects one side of the body and may run along the entire length of the sciatic nerve. It is estimated that as many as 40% of people may experience sciatic nerve pain in their lifetime, and it tends to become a more frequent complain as we age (Harvard Medical, 2016).
How does Sciatic Pain start?
Well, your sciatic nerves are two of the largest nerves in your body. They’re about as thick as your little finger, and run down from your lumbar spine, through your buttocks, down the backs of each leg all the way to the soles of your feet and big toes. Wherever there is pinching or pressure on this nerve, pain is sure to follow. Sciatica can be quite individual. You may feel pain anywhere along the sciatic nerves’ path, and that pain can vary from excruciating to burning to throbbing or to a dull ache.
The most common culprits for sciatica can be a herniated or bulging disc, a bone spur on the spine, or the narrowing of the spine (also called Spinal Stenosis). All these conditions put pressure on the nerves in our spine.
While sciatica appears to be a common complaint, some people are at a higher risk than others. Risk factors contributing to Sciatica are:
- Age: The older you are the more prone you may be to Spinal Stenosis, bulging or herniated discs, and injury due to a lack of mobility.
- Weight: The more you weigh, the more pressure you put on your body structure, including your spine.
- Poor Posture: Poor posture affects the whole spine and may lead to degenerative issues.
- Jobs: If your job has you moving, twisting and lifting in awkward ways you are at a higher risk of injury. A job that is also too stagnant may also contribute to pain.
What To Do?
The good news is that while Sciatica is a common complaint, it is also easy to alleviate the pain and discomfort without having to go through surgery. If you are currently in pain some of the things to do can include:
See a Chiropractor
Dr. Klassen, a Winnipeg Chiropractor has been practicing for 8 years and will be able to find the root cause of the sciatica and to properly correct it without having to resort to surgery or drugs.
Alternating heat packs and ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation and discomfort.
Walking as much as you can bear in between periods of rest can help reduce the inflammation around your nerves, as well as release endorphins into your body. Just lying around in bed may potentially make the pain worse.
In our last blog we list a few stretches that can relieve back pain. Stretching may help reduce the inflammation.
When practicing these stretches make sure you don’t bounce around too much and modify the holding times as needed.
Prevention Is The Key
Once you’ve found relief from your sciatic pain, I’m willing to bet that you won’t want it to come back. Prevention is just as important as treatment. The preventative steps are easy:
See a Chiropractor regularly
As mentioned before, Chiropractors are trained to identify the root cause of sciatic pain and help prevent it from returning. Chiropractors use manual adjustments to your spine to re-align it and restore proper movement in your body. Regular adjustments may help keep the pressure off your sciatic nerves, and reduce your symptoms.
Building strength in your muscles means you rely less on your joint structure to keep you stable. Making sure the muscles in your back are functioning properly will go a long way in reducing discomfort.
Watch Your Posture
This one speaks for itself. The better your posture is, the less likely you are to experience pain related to chronic misalignment in your spine.
Use Good Body Mechanics
Review how to properly lift, turn, and carry. Following good body mechanics can greatly reduce your chance of injury.
Sciatic Nerve Pain can feel scary. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. If you are concerned you might be experiencing sciatica, book a consultation appointment with Dr. Klassen today and see how he can help you on your way back to wellness!
Harvard Medical. (2016, February). Sciatica : Of All The Nerve. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing : https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/sciatica-of-all-the-nerve