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All You Need to Know About Sciatica. 

 November 28, 2022

By  Linda Rook

Introduction.

Sciatica is a disease affecting the sciatic nerve in your spine.  When this disease goes without treatment, it may lead to severe pain, inflammation and degeneration of the facet joint.

The sciatic nerve has two functions; the first is helping the muscles in your legs and feet to move; this is called the  motor function. The second function enables you to feel sensations in the legs.

Sciatica nerve is the largest in the body, it is attached to five nerve roots. These nerve roots go down the buttocks through to the thigh bones and sole of your feet.

To control this disease you should do low-impact exercises each day and go on a healthy diet, that will also bring you weight down and therefore less stress on the spine.

What is sciatica and its causes?

Sciatica causes compression on the sciatic nerve due to a disc herniation or bone overgrowing in the spine. When this happens, a disc is pushed into the spinal canal and pressed against the sciatic nerve. An injury usually causes sciatica, and the ligaments can weaken and rupture.

Sciatica is the largest nerve in the body which is attached to five nerve roots. The five roots run down the buttocks to the thigh and sole of your feet.

Pain at the bottom of spine

The job of the sciatic nerve is the connection of the spinal cord to the skin and muscle in the lumbar region.  The symptoms are compression, irritation or inflammation and could become excruciatingly painful on the nerves.

The symptoms.

Sciatica symptoms are mild to severe pain that runs down the lower spine and one side of the body. The pain could be jolting, sharp, burning, aching or a sensation of pins and needles.

Other symptoms could be:

Elderly lady sitting for a rest.
  • Hip pain.
  • Difficulty standing.
  • Pain when you cough or sneeze.
  • Excruciating pain when you sit for a long time.
  • The leg or foot muscle could become weak or numb.
  • When you get severe sciatica, it is often due to permanent damage to the nerve; this can affect other parts of the body that, includes:

  • Changes in the bowel and bladder.
  • Dysfunction of sexual activities.
  • Symptoms occur in both legs.
  • Weakness in the leg that could hinder mobility.
  • When you have diarrhoea you need toilet rolls

    Risk Factor.

    The risk factor of sciatica are as follows:

    Age. – Your discs break down due to wear and tear as you age.

    Prolonged sitting. – when you sit for a long time, the result could cause sciatica because you are putting pressure on the already unhealthy spine. So instead, you should stand and walk around for a while.

    Prolonged standing. – this has the effect of sitting for too long, as you are putting pressure on your already unhealthy spine.

    Occupations. – if your work involves carrying heavy loads or twisting the back, driving for a long time, being a carpenter, or having an inactive lifestyle, they could lead to degeneration of the spinal discs.

    Obesity. – an increase in weight can increase stress on the back, which leads to spinal changes and, therefore, sciatica.

    Diabetes. – diabetes affects blood sugar, which can increase the risk of nerve damage.

    Vitamin Deficiency. – if you have vitamin B12 efficiency, it can prevent the covering of the nerve, called 'the myelin sheath, from forming correctly.

    Smoking. – if you are smoking or thinking about starting, you MUST NOT, as this can irritate your symptoms and worsen the disease.

    Prevention.

    To prevent sciatica from starting or getting worse, you need to do the following:

    The Spine

    Good posture.

    When you stand or sit, you should keep your spine aligned. Also, it would help if you had an ergonomic chair in your home office or place of work. With proper lumbar back support. Or a rolled towel at the small part of the back will help.

    Regular exercises.

    I know this one is difficult, but you should exercise daily. Exercise can strengthen the core muscles in the abdomen and low back.

    Which could help maintain a proper posture and prevent pulled ligaments. Exercises that help are yoga and stretching or muscle strength.

    Another exercise that you can do is walk in the garden each day.

    Exercise you knees

    Diagnosis.

    When your doctor makes an appointment for you to go to a hospital, they will do a muscle strength and reflex test. The test could include waking on tiptoes or the back of your heels, squats or lying down and lifting your legs. If you get pain when you do these tests, it may be due to sciatica.

    If the symptom does not improve within a couple of weeks, you may have to do more tests, such as they may need you to go for:

    X-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, CT scan or an EMG (Electromyography).

    Treatments.

    The treatment of sciatica is to determine the base cause and severity of the disease.

    The treatments are:

    Medication.

    Medication can include OTC (over-the-counter) medication such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen.

     But you must always see your doctor if you want to start any new drugs, exercises or diet.
    heat packs

    Other Remedies.

    There are also home remedies that you can do to keep the pain and inflammation at bay.  They are as follows:

    Heat and ice packs.

    Heat and ice packs can help with the symptoms. If you are in pain, you need a heat pack, whereas if you have terrible inflammation, you need an ice pack. But always wrap a towel around it (DO NOT put the ice pack directly onto your skin). These pack you leave on for about 20 minutes at a time with a couple of hours interval. You can apply the packs on your buttocks or the back of the leg where the symptoms worsen.

    Physical therapy.

    A physical therapist can give you an exercise program, especially for your situation. They will help you with your posture and strengthen your muscles.

    Massage and Acupuncture.

    Both massage and acupuncture can help, but you must go to a professional person. Massaging can help you to relax your muscle and therefore relieve pain.

    Acupuncture can help with pain and muscle spasms. I have tried this, but it got too expensive, so I had to stop the sessions.

    Acupuncture

    Steroid injections.

    Steroid injections or corticosteroid medication may be recommended to decrease the inflammation that surrounds the nerve and reduces the pain.

    Surgery.

    If your sciatica becomes severe, then it may be recommended to have surgery. But this is only done if the condition continues after therapy or other treatments have failed.

    The lumber spine diagram

    Causes.

    When you develop sciatica, the causes could be:

    Lumbar herniated disc.

    The lumbar herniated disc is when a fragment of the disc material is ruptured into the spinal canal, where the nerves which control the bowel and bladder goes before they leave the spine. The lumbar herniated disc can cause compression on the nerve to one side of the body, causing that side leg to have pain.

    Degeneration.

    The tissues that you have in the lumbar spine region can irritate the sciatica nerve. In addition, the degeneration of the facet joint will cause the synovial tissue in the capsules of the joint to be inflamed and abnormal bone growth.

    The next four can also develop into sciatica.

    Lumbar spinal stenosis.

    Spinal stenosis is when the spinal canal narrows and is common in adults over 60.

    Spondylolisthesis.

    Spondylolisthesis occurs when a small stress fracture causes one vertebra to slip forward on another. For example, sciatica can result in this vertebra pressing on a nerve then the disc will collapse.

    Piriformis syndrome.

    The piriformis syndrome causes spasms of the piriformis muscle. The muscle runs from the lower spine through your buttock to the top of the thigh. This syndrome develops because you may be overusing an injury. For example, runners or athletes can develop this.

    Sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

    The sacroiliac joint is situated at the bottom of the spine.

    When you develop this, it can irritate the joint nerve that lies on top of the sacroiliac joint, which causes sciatica.

     Diet.

    A diet is also essential for not only sciatica symptoms but all arthritis and other diseases. It's important to manage your pain and flare-ups by having a healthy diet; also, it will keep your weight down.

    Many foods cause inflammation and free radicals. Free radicals are oxygenated molecules that has an uneven number of electrons in them. The uneven number allows them to react with other molecules and cause significant chain chemical reactions in the body. The reaction can be caused by exposure to an x-ray, the ozone layer, smoking, air pollution and chemical from industries.

    Molecules.

    Good foods.

    When you limit these anti-inflammatory foods and free radicals (chemical irritants) from the bloodstream, you will notice that your symptoms may become better managed.

    The following list of foods helps you with your inflammation.

    vegetables that are good for you.

    Vegetables.

    Kale – kale is a detoxifying food. Kale is also anti-inflammatory, which means that it helps with your inflammation. Also, kale has iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, C, and K.

    Broccoli – broccoli is packed with nutrition and antioxidants, as well as iron, folate, and vitamins A, C and K.

    Mushrooms – mushrooms have antiviral and anti-inflammatory products and much more… the mushroom also strengthens the immune system and reduces inflammation.

    Fruit.

    Pineapple – pineapple is full of vitamin C, and an enzyme called bromelain that helps with the digestion of protein reduces gut inflammation and increases immunity. With pineapple or any other fruits, you can add them to a great smoothie.

    Blueberry – blueberries are loaded with an antioxidant called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is found in all fruit and vegetables coloured blue or purple.

    Fish.

    Salmon – especially wild salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Other fish that are good are sardines, mackerel, herring, oysters and anchovies.

    Herbs.

    Certain herbs can help you to relieve the symptoms naturally that comes from ancient India and are found to reduce pain.  They are garlic, bitter chamomile, India Aloe Vera, nutmeg and valerian root.

    Food to avoid.

    Avoid all inflammatory and highly processed foods. The below list is foods that you should definitely avoid if you have any disease, like sciatica, all types of arthritis and many more...

    Sugar.

    All types of sugary products should be avoided, such as:

  • Candy, soft drinks.
  • Pancakes, syrup.
  • Frozen desserts.
  • Processed baked goods.
  • Sugary Drinks - Coke can

    High-saturated foods.

    The high-saturated foods are red meat, the yolk of an egg, fry foods, poultry skin, processed meat, and high-fat dairy products.

    Other things to avoid.

    When you develop sciatica, you should avoid the following list:

    1. Avoid exercises that stretch the hamstring.

    2. It would help if you avoided heavy weights before you warm up for exercise.

    3. It would be best if you avoided some gym machines, such as the rowing machines and high impact.

    4. If you sit down a lot with your work, you must have 20 minutes of moving around.

    5. Bending over is another one to avoid.

    6. If you are having a bad day and resting in bed, if possible, this should also be avoided. You should at least walk around the bedroom.

    7. If you are working sitting down all day, you need to ask for a proper lumbar chair.

    8. Always lift with your knees, never with your back.

    9. When you go on a long car journey, you must stop at a resting place and walk around a bit.

    Conclusion.

    When you develop sciatica, you should make sure that you are careful with your spine. If you develop sciatica, your spinal nerve is damaged, resulting in numbness and tingling. When it is severe, the result could be a weakness in the knees or legs.

    You can do many things to help the symptoms of sciatica, such as putting heat and ice on the back. In addition, physical therapy will help with low-impact exercises, as you need to move daily.

    Sciatica is generally in an older adult rather than a child, but they could develop this, which is called juvenile sciatica.

    I am not a medical professional and the information in this article is for information only.  Always consult your doctor of anything you are worried about.

    I hope this article has helped you. Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs or videos. Also, if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message; I will get back to you within 24 hours.

    In the meantime, if this post is informative, I’d be very grateful if you’d help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on Twitter or Facebook or send them an email.

    Linda Rook

    Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 


    Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.


    Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.


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