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Sciatica - the cause and the cure

What it is Sciatica is the name people give to a pain in the buttock, leg or foot brought on as a direct result of some form of irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It runs all the way from the lower back splitting at the base of the spine and terminating in the foot.


Sedentary lifestyle, weak back and stomach muscles are usually causes of sciatica. Obesity will put an enormous strain on the spine and therefore increase pressure on the vertebrae.


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 Stretching and exercising are a must if you really want to progress along the road to rehabilitation and if you are in extreme pain this is probably the last thing you will contemplate doing.

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The most common causes of sciatica are: a herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, trauma, piriformis syndrome, and spinal tumors. When one suffers from a herniated disc, there is an inflammation or bulging of the spinal disc causing it to protrude out of the annulus. The annulus is the space between the spine where the spinal discs are located. Disc herniation could exert pressure on the nearby nerve root causing a direct compression on sensitive nerve tissues such as the sciatic nerve. Lumbar spinal stenosis is almost the same as disc herniation in the sense that spinal nerves are pinched. In this case, though, the spinal canal shrinks, squeezing and applying too much pressure on the spinal nerve inside. The spinal nerve branches out of the spinal canal to the entire body through openings called as neural foramina. Once these passages are congested or narrowed, it causes nerve compression. If the blockage happens on these passageways, they're considered foraminal stenosis. If it occurs on the opening where the sciatic nerve passes, it may cause sciatica.

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Another cause can be spondylolisthesis, or more commonly known as slipped discs. It may also cause sciatica when a vertebral disc moves out of place and applies direct pressure to the spinal nerve adjacent to it, usually occuring on the lumbar or the lower portion of the spine. Blunt force trauma to the lower back region may cause severe damage to the spine and may cause sciatica as well. Accidents or external forces that may cause bone fractures like vehicular accidents, horse riding accidents, sports injuries may all lead to sciatica as bone fragments may occasionally be the cause of the nerve compression. The piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle spasms and compresses the sciatic nerve. In this case, the sciatic nerve running beneath the piriformis muscle may sometimes get irritated by movement of the said muscle.

Bill Morrison has his own website http://www.help4urback.com where he describes his own personal experiences coping with lower back pain and sciatica. He also includes personal recommendations for people who suffer from sciatica or lower back pain including what books to buy, TENs machines, and what web sites to check out.

If your pain is not relieved by analgesics or NSAIDs, your doctor might prescribe narcotic analgesics (such as codeine) for a short time. Side effects of these include nausea, constipation, dizziness and drowsiness, and continued use may result in dependency.

Recent studies have shown that bed rest is not necessarily the best way to treat sciatica. It is better to remain active, starting off with some gentle stretching and exercise. Swimming is particularly useful, as it is not a weight bearing exercise. The good news is that herniated spinal discs usually do heal on their own, given time.

The cause The most common cause of sciatica is a prolapsed (slipped) disc, pinched nerves or some form of arthritis. It usually starts with back pain which sometimes improves only to be followed by hamstring or calf pain. It may also include numbness in the toes depending on which branch of the sciatic nerve is irritated.

In extreme cases spinal injections of corticosteroid into the epidural space (the area around the spinal nerves) or facet joint (between vertebrae) may be given. This is usually carried out by a specialist with follow up injections at a later date.

The spine is made up of a series of connected bones called "vertebrae." Spondylolisthesis or isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs when a cracked vertebra slips over the vertebra below it. Poor posture and curvature of the back or weak abdominal muscles can contribute to this slippage, which can press on the nerve. The presence of this spondylolysis usually does not represent a dangerous condition in the adult and most treatments concentrate on pain relief and increasing the patient's ability to function.

What is Sciatica? It is important to understand just what exactly sciatica pain is although it is often confused with other medical conditions and sometimes even used as an umbrella term for anything else that is not easily diagnosed! Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis in itself. Sometimes sciatica pain can be confused with other serious medical conditions such as a tumour or infection so a careful diagnosis is always important. This article will outline some basic facts about sciatica and point to sciatica home remedies.

Strengthen Your Abdominals Your abdominal muscles are the most important muscle for pelvis and lower back stability. Your sciatica is caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve. This is formed from 5 nerve roots that exit the last parts of your spine. If your abdominal muscles are stringer then these areas are more stable and able to move easier.

What Causes Sciatica? Basically it is severe acute pain in the lower back or it can be constant back pain radiating from the lumbar region of the back. The pain is caused by pressure or irritation of one or more nerves exiting the lower spine that make up the sciatic nerve. There are many medical conditions that can cause this, for example, a spinal disc has moved out of its original position and can therefore irritate the nerve root in the lower back which is joined to the sciatic nerve. Pain can be acute- lasting less than a month. Chronic pain will usually last longer than six months- the percentage is between 1-5% of all lower back pain cases.

Since getting mobile and becoming flexible is extremely important you might require some pain management to help you get going. For mild cases of sciatica your doctor may start off by recommending non prescription medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, known as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. A downside of these drugs is that they may cause stomach upsets or bleeding.

Did you know there were 3 simple exercises that could dramatically change your sciatica? Yes, sciatica could actually ease and disappear and never to return. Wouldn't that be great!

Have you ever felt a chronic, burning pain that spreads from your lower hip running down to your foot? Is it just as painful sitting down or standing up? You might be suffering from sciatica.

Sciatica can be helped and you can change your sciatica quickly. Learning to stretch and strengthen the main muscles that cause your sciatica can ease your pain quickly and remove that nagging sciatica once and for all.

Overall, sciatica sufferers can avoid a lot of agonising back pain by maintaining a support for the back while sitting (avoiding sprawling on a couch!) and maintaining good posture, avoiding standing for long periods of time and using safe techniques for lifting heavy objects. Caring for your back should be an essential part of your daily routine. You can find out more about home remedies and an alternative cure

Spinal stenosis is the name given to the narrowing of the nerve channel (vertebral canal) of the spine. This narrowing causes compression of either the spinal cord within the vertebral canal, or the nerve roots that exit the spinal cord. People with spinal stenosis experience sciatic pain symptoms in the legs and feet. It usually results from degenerative arthritis causing a narrowing of the spaces in the vertebral canal. Manual workers are more prone to developing symptoms of spinal stenosis but it seldom affects people under 30 years of age - unless it is due to traumatic injury to the vertebrae.

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that originated from China. Fine needles are inserted into your skin in strategic points in the body to release negative energy and restore health and well-being, and treat pain and illnesses. It has been proven effective by medical practitioners. It is highly recommended as a treatment for generic lumbar pain, even for mild sciatica, as it supposedly releases tension from the spastic muscles and relieves the pressure from the compressed nerve.

Just imagine being able to walk freely, enjoy life, play with your children. All without that nagging sciatica that has become a real "pain in the butt". Life would be so much easier and happier, wouldn't it?

 
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As a last resort you may consider surgery to remove fragments of the prolapsed disc are then removed. As I mentioned earlier it is important to stay active and continue with an exercise and stretching program. Especially do exercises to develop your back and stomach muscles. This will help stabilize your spine and support your body.

Sciatica is usually caused by a prolapsed or 'slipped' disc bulging and pressing on to a nerve. It doesn't usually cause permanent nerve damage since the spinal cord is not present in the lower part of the spine and a prolapsed or herniated disc in this area does not pose a risk of paralysis.

Pain can be felt along all or part of the course of the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower back, through the buttock into the calf and even into the foot.

Abdominal strength requires a good nerve and blood supply to the abdominal muscles and then targeted exercise that increases the strength of these muscles in days. To improve your abdominals you need ideal strengthening techniques.

The discs which cushion the vertebrae in the lower back become progressively thinner and harder as we get older. This stresses the lower back and often causes a variety of lower back pain disorders, including sciatica.

Weak muscles here will cause more pain than before and will increase the chances of injury due to sudden movement. Exercising the lower back area and postural stretching can be enormously beneficial. Careful attention needs to be paid to posture and body mechanics to get the maximum benefit from the exercises. Exercises need to be done twice a day and under supervision of a trainer or instructor.

The 3 most important muscles to target if you suffer sciatica are the abdominal, hip flexor and Piriformis muscles. Target these and sciatica is easily controlled.

Sciatica, as the name implies, affects the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the single longest nerve in the body. It originates from the lower lumber region of your spine, through the pelvis, through the hind portion of your leg down to your foot. It is mainly responsible for distributing blood to the back of our lower extremities.

Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a small muscle behind the gluteus maximus. Piriformis syndrome is most common among women, runners and walkers.

This information in this article should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. You should always consult with your health care professional especially relating to the suitability of supplements or drugs and on all health matters that may require diagnosis or medical attention. If you suffer from progressive weakness in the leg or bladder or bowel incontinence this constitutes a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical attention - you may have cauda equina syndrome a serious condition due to compression of the nerve roots in the lower end of the spinal canal.

What to stretch is important, how and when to stretch is essential. Especially if you want to change your sciatica quickly and permanently. Perfect stretching is the key!

There are many different treatments for sciatica and it is important to discuss these with your health practitioner. Accurate diagnosis to determine the exact cause of sciatic pain is also equally important. The most conclusive diagnosis is usually gained by a having an MRI scan. However having said that skilled medical practitioners, and I include Osteopaths and Chiropractors, are often able to determine the suspected cause by carrying out a physical examination

There is a fairly new procedure called IDET which stands for Iintro Discal Electrothermy). When a disc is herniated the water content of the inflamed disc causes it to bulge and press against the nerve. IDET dries up the disc very quickly, in less than 20 minutes, a process which might take weeks or months if left to dry up naturally

Sciatic pain is usually nerve related and responds well to treatment with low doses of tricyclic anti-depressant drugs like amitriptyline, dothiepin, nortriptyline, lofepramine, desipramine, clomipramine or imipramine combined with acupuncture or the use of TENs machines. The low dosage of the tricyclic drug acts by closing "a pain gate" blocking the message to the brain.

Other treatments to manage sciatica include traction; manipulation by a skilled osteopath, physio therapist or chiropractor; Chemonucleolysis (injection of a special enzyme into the disk).

So if you have been experiencing sharp, burning pain on your lower extremities, it is best that you consult a medical practitioner at once. You might be experiencing sciatica. But like they say, prevention is better than cure. Let's not abuse our bodies. RESOURCE BOX: Choose Variety of High Quality Medicines at Online Medicines Enjoyed Reading this article? More here: Pharmacy Articles

Abdominal muscle strength does not mean spending countless hours doing sit-ups or crunches. In fact these types of exercises do little to strengthen the abdominals; they can actually target the hip flexors which if over tight help create your sciatica.

Sciatica Home Remedies What is the remedy for this condition and what can be helpful instead of going down the path to drugs and surgery? Many doctors recommend bed rest but exercise is usually much better in the long term for healing this condition. Some patients like to rest for a few days after an acute attack but if inactivity continues, this may make the pain worse. It is essential to understand that if the back muscles become weak and flabby from lack of exercise, then they will be less able to support the back.

Other medications like Corticosteroids taken orally or by injection are sometimes prescribed for more severe back and leg pain because of their very powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Corticosteroids also have side effects and the pros and cons of taking them should be fully discussed with your doctor.

How Is Sciatica Normally Cured? Anti inflammatory drugs and surgery are solutions which may or may not cure the condition. Spinal manipulation, massage therapy and physical therapy are all possible solutions and are sometimes recommended before considering surgery.

Dr Graeme Teague is an expert in the structural field, and has been in practice since 1991. His newly launched web site The Back Pain Advisor - http://www.back-pain-advisor.com - strives to give you valuable and expert advice, tips and information on your back pain issues.

Lastly, spinal tumors are anomalous growths on the spine that can either be benign or malignant. Rare as sciatica cases being caused by spinal tumors may be, once a tumor develops in the lumbar region, it may cause nerve compression that may trigger sciatica.

It is also important to maintain a reasonable body weight, ensure you have a good posture, sleep on a mattress that is neither too soft nor too hard, be careful when bending or lifting heavy weights.

There are a lot of treatments recommended for sciatica, some non-invasive and some involving surgery. In cases of bone fragments, spinal tumor, and severe cases of slipped or herniated disc causing the sciatica, of course surgery would be required as treatment. But for some minor instances, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture is enough to relieve the pain. Chiropractic therapy may range from ice/cold therapy, ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), to spine adjustment or manipulation. These entail for the lumber area to be exposed to cold or heat to reduce inflammation and muscle spasms.

In actual fact there are 3 simple exercises that can help you to remove your sciatica and help to prevent any recurrences as well. They are as follows...

The Cure Some cases of sciatica which result from inflammation get better with time and heal themselves perhaps within six weeks to three months.

Piriformis Stretching The sciatic nerve either runs through or next to the Piriformis muscles. If tight the Piriformis allows sciatica to occur. So with all sciatica, Piriformis stretching is essential. Stretching the Piriformis is simple and the same rules apply...

If this is achieved your sciatica will disappear quickly and is easy to prevent. To stretch the hip flexors, you need to target them correctly and the most important aspect of stretching is not what to stretch, but when and how to stretch. Knowing when and how means you spend minimal time stretching with maximum gains. Easing tension can be achieved within days not weeks or months.

Relax Your Hip Flexors The hip flexor muscle group if tight increases the curve of our lower back. This increases pressure on the sciatic nerve and allows your sciatica to occur. The hip flexors and abdominal muscles work together. A strong abdominal group and a balanced hip flexor group give you stability, flexibility and strength in your lower spine.

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Kimberly Griggs

 
 
     
 
 





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