Sciatica involves pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve, which then branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. It typically affects only one side of the body, and most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve, causing inflammation, pain, and often numbness in the affected leg.
Pain with sciatica can be severe, however, most cases are resolved with non-operative treatments in just a few weeks.
Here are the symptoms to lookout for:
- Pain radiating from your lower spine to the buttock and down the back of your leg (this is known as the hallmark of sciatica).
- Discomfort along the nerve pathway.
- Pain that ranges from a mild ache to burning sensation to excruciating pain.
- Pain may feel like a jolt or electric shock.
- Pain may worsen when coughing or sneezing, or when sitting for long periods of time.
- Some patients report numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the leg or foot.
- Normally one side of your body is affected.
While mild sciatica typically goes away over time, you should seek medical attention right away if you have the following symptoms: have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels, have pain that follows a serious injury (like a traffic accident), or have sudden and severe pain in your lower leg or back and leg or muscle weakness.
What is the best treatment for sciatica?
There are a number of treatments for sciatica. Let’s start with some simple home remedies. Cold packs work well for 20 minutes or so several times a day (use an ice pack or frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel). Hot packs work too for a few days (just apply a hot pack to the areas that hurt). Then there is stretching routines that might help relieve pain (avoid jerking, twisting or bouncing during your stretches, and try and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds). Over-the-counter medications may also do the trick in helping relieve pain. Then there are other routes for treatment, including acupuncture and seeing a chiropractor.
How do I get my sciatic nerve to stop from hurting?
There are lots of ways to get your sciatic nerve to stop hurting. Stretches work well, and so do ice packs and heating pads. You can also try refreshing your posture too at work or at home; varying your posture every 20-30 minutes and using proper posture may help take pressure off your spine and reduce symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs may help ease things when pain strikes, or if your pain persists and is bothersome, then visit your doctor or chiropractor to discuss other treatment options available.
How long will sciatica take to heal?
Healing time for sciatica usually takes a few weeks, and you could experience episodes a few times a year. Sciatica may also become chronic, which means that you could be in pain on a regular basis. The good news is that chronic sciatica is often less painful than the acute form.
What triggers sciatica?
Sciatica is normally caused by inflammation, irritation, pinching or compressional of a nerve in your lower back. The most common culprit is a slipped or herniated disk that causes pressure on the nerve foot. Most people get better on their own with self-care treatments. Sciatica is a common complaint among Americans: approximately 40% of people experience it at some point in their lives. If you have or had a previous injury, are overweight, or lack a strong core, then your risk factor for sciatica is much higher. Other risk factors include poor posture in the weight room, diabetes, osteoarthritis, or working an active or physical job. We serve patients from Wilmington DE, Claymont DE, New Castle DE, Greenville DE, Centerville DE, Elsmere DE, Hockessin DE, Chadds Ford PA, Garnet Valley PA and Kennett Square PA.