The Sciatic nerve is the longest and largest single nerve in the body carryin electrical signals from one part of the body to another. Its multiple roots are attached to the lower spine and then combine into one large nerve that runs down the back of both legs all the way to the toes. The Sciatic nerve serves as the connection between the skin and the muscles of the leg and the body’s nervous system.
One is never aware of the sciatic nerve, nor does it ever cause any issues on its own. However, most people have heard of sciatica ( sciatic nerve pain), so why is that?
What causes sciatic nerve pain?
Sciatica is caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve, although it’s a symptom and not the issue itself. As it turns out lower back problems are the main cause of sciatic nerve pain. Specifically herniated discs are responsible for 90% of all sciatica. This happens when a disc in the spine tears and its soft inner material bulges and pinches or aggravates the nearby sciatic nerve. Another cause is lumbar spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal through which the nerves pass, that may compress the sciatic nerve), as well as degenerative disc disease (changes that cause pain due to wear-and-tear on the spinal disc). General back strain is also often the root of the pain, as well as back injuries that put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve injury is another cause of sciatica which can be the result of surgery or another medical procedure.
Since back problems are ubiquitous, it isn’t surprising then that sciatica is common, and about 40% of the population experiences it at one point.
Risk factor connected with sciatica:
- Age – sciatica is common between the age of 30 and 50, and can also be caused by age-related changes.
- Weight – more weight means more pressure on the spine and greater risk for a herniated disc.
- Diabetes – this disease can cause nerve damage.
- Job and activities – lifting heavy weight can cause pressure, as do long hours of daily sitting.
- Lower back pain that goes down the buttock and leg pain, possibly all the way down the back of one leg to the foot
- Pain that feels like burning, tingling, searing, or stabbing along the nerve
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg, foot, toes
- Can be constant and debilitating, or can come in spurts and be merely annoying
Diagnosis & Treatment
Seeing that sciatica is just a symptom of an underlying medical condition, and the sciatic nerve itself is never the cause of the pain, that complicates the issue of pain relief. Diagnosing sciatica is fairly simple but has to be done by a medical professional. However diagnosing the underlying cause can be a bit more complicated, especially if it isn’t one of the main causes discussed above. As a result, even when sciatica is diagnosed, many times no cause can be found.
The best treatment for sciatica may vary depending on the cause and severity of pain. Only in severe causes are surgical procedures required for sciatica. There is no real consensus for the management of sciatic nerve pain, some say to stay active, others to rest, while yet others suggest physical therapy. No matter the management, the course seems to be the same, and most cases resolve within weeks or months, most often around the 6-week mark. However, during this time the patient could be suffering from debilitating pain without any real help, while the underlying issue works to heal itself. Managing pain helps the patient cope, as it helps to keep him as active as possible until the body completely heals.
Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful, but not for longer periods of time. Doctors will often prescribe various medications to treat sciatica, but as in the case of sciatica pain management, here too, there is no real proof that the sciatica pain medication or steroids are actually effective for relieving pain. [Read more here]. This leaves the patient in a lot of pain for a prolonged period of time.
Exercised for Sciatica Leg Pain
Not making painful efforts and resting is helpful for sciatica, but long rests are not advisable. Prolonged sitting actually creates a pressure and irritation whereas staying in motion helps alleviate the pressure and reduce inflammation. Another benefit of exercise is the release of endorphins, even with activities such as walking and swimming. Exercises can also help with range of motion and functionality.
Exercises for sciatica leg pain can be part of physical therapy or you can do them at home.
Here are a few exercises for sciatica leg pain:
The following are stretching exercises that should be done slowly, preferably on a mat, without making any sudden movements. If you find it difficult to lie on the floor, try doing the exercises while lying in bed.
- Knee to chest stretch – lie on your back, place a flat cushion under your head, and bend your knees, keeping them hip-width apart. Now bend one knee towards your chest and hold it with your hands. Hold for about 30 seconds and alternate legs.
- Straightened knee stretch – lie on your back, place a flat cushion under your head, and bend your knees, keeping them hip-width apart. Now bend one knee towards your chest, hold the back of your leg with your hands to draw the knee closer, and straighten it up. Hold for about 30 seconds and switch legs.
- Lying glute stretch – lie on your back, place a flat cushion under your head, and bend your knees, keeping them hip-width apart. Now bend one leg and place your foot on the other tight. Hold the thigh of the leg planted on the the floor, and pull it towards you. If this is difficult, use a towel around your thigh and hold on to it. Hold for about 30 seconds and alternate legs.
- Cobra – a cobra stretch requires you to lie on your stomach. Then press into your hands, straightening your arms and lifting your chest before pulling your shoulders back, lifting your navel if possible. Hold for about 30 seconds.
- Standing hamstring stretch – place one heel in front of the body with your leg straight and your foot flexed either on the floor or on an elevated surface. The heel of the front foot should push into the ground and the tow stretched up. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping a slight bend in your back knee and a neutral spine. Hold for about 30 seconds and switch legs.
Remember not to force the exercise, and always listen to your body. Find a good stretch that still feels comfortable so that although you feel the stretch, your sciatic pain doesn’t increase.
Real Pain Relief
A nonprescription, FDA-cleared at-home pain relieving device can prove highly effective for sciatica pain relief. It can be safely used whenever pain appears. Solio Alfa Plus device is the first radiofrequency FDA-cleared pain relief device for home use. It can provide sciatic nerve pain relief all along the leg through the patented synergy of 3 powerful energy sources directed at the target area:
- Bi-polar Radiofrequency (RF) provides deep penetration technology
- Low Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) treats muscle spams
- IR heat energy has dual wavelenghts – Infra Red (IR) and red spectrum for treating skin pain and stiffness
With Solio pain relief device, you can alleviate pain and create an optimal healing environment at the comfort of your home. Better yet, Solio Alfa Plus can also help heal the underlying cause of pain, if used on the lower back, by increasing the blood flow to the affected area and controlling the inflammation.
Solio Alfa Plus is an excellent solution for a wide range of injuries and conditions, including the underlying causes of sciatica. Solio Alfa Plus is painless, and has no known side effects. It’s an easy-to-use device that allows you to effectively self-manage your pain exactly when you need it. Don’t just accept pain. Choose Solio Alfa Plus.