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Information on Sciatica

So you have been diagnosed with sciatica and even though your doctor explained to you about the condition, you have come looking for a bit more information on sciatica.


5 - How did you back pain start? Falls, injuries, a slow or sudden build up of sciatica. These can determine whether you should seek help or whether you can help your self at home. This is vital information.


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 back sciatica discussionsSciatica is scary, the pain travels down your leg and stops you performing you daily tasks. You once could jump out of bed and do everything you wanted to do, from putting in 100% effort at work to playing with your children.

Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome: The pain coming from the joints in your back with this particular symptom can cause Sciatica like symptoms along with pain and discomfort. Just like the knee and elbow can get inflamed and cause pain, the facet joint is like any other joint in your body and follows these same rules.

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If it travels right down your leg does that mean it is more serious than pain in the buttock. If it is serious what should you do? 2 - How long have you had your back pain?

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).

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

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.

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.

The scariest thing now is your sciatica may never disappear. You may need up needing surgery or spend a life time with that nagging back pain. You may be worried now that your as your flexibility diminishes, there is no hope.

Commonly the major cause can be pinned as disc herniation in the lumbar spine which presses directly on the sciatic nerve and any triggers by such a reaction for example by irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone which in turn produces the symptoms of sciatica. Besides a compressed or a pinched nerve, other causes could also be tumors, muscle, internal bleeding, infections, injury etc. thus sciatica is not really a disease by itself but rather many other dependants make it into a medical condition worthy of attention

Sciatica refers to pain that begins in the hip and buttocks and continues all the way down the leg. This condition is often accompanied by low back pain, which can be more or less severe than the leg pain. The term "sciatica" indicates that the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lower back through the buttocks and into the leg, is thought to be the cause of the pain in this condition. True sciatica is a condition that occurs when a herniated lumbar disc compresses one of the contributing roots of the sciatic nerve. This type of low back pain is less common than other causes and conditions that produce back pain.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The answers to these questions are essential if you want relief from your sciatica. After all the biggest fear is that you will never be free of your sciatica pain, that you will need up needing surgery and therefore never get back to full activity.

Symptoms can vary from extreme pain in the low back radiating into one buttock and down the leg. Pain often increases on exertion or bending forward. Alternatively, there may only be a mild sensation in the leg or buttock. There may be numbness in the area, weakness in the leg and diminution of the reflexes. Pain may be triggered by coughing or straining and can be so severe that the lower back becomes locked in sideways bending position (scoliosis) caused by a strong contraction.

Symptoms The most common symptom of sciatica mimics the pain of a severe leg cramp. Depending on where damage to the nerve occurs, pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling, a burning sensation or general weakness in the leg.

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

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.

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Lets start with the basic question on most peoples mind, what is sciatica? The general term used for pain being felt along the sciatic nerve is sciatica. This pain is usually described by patients as a sharp electric shocking type pain that starts in the buttocks and travels down the back of the thigh and leg. Most often caused by a herniated disk, there are also other causes. When diagnosing sciatica symptoms a MRI scan is most often taken to help with this process. If your MRI shows a herniated disk make sure to get referred to a spine specialist. A spine specialist can look over your X-rays and be able to recommend the proper course of treatment.

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.

Sacroiliitis: The joint where your hip meets your spine is called the sacroiliac joint. When your sacroiliac joint becomes inflamed it is known as sacroiliitis. Sciatica type syndromes can be felt due to inflammation caused by arthritis or traumatic injury. Anesthetic injections or anti-inflammatory medications can take away the pain.

Being extremely uncommon in younger patients sciatica can still affect most anyone. Most people who suffer from sciatica are in the age range of thirty to fifty. Most often back injury or over exerting the back will bring on a sudden onset of sciatica.

 
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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.

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.

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.

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.

Sciatic pain usually starts in the buttocks and extends down the rear of the thigh and lower leg to the sole of the foot and along the outer side of the lower leg to the top of the foot. Pain may also be present in the lower back.

Piriformis Syndrome: Simply put this is pain caused by the Piriformis muscle that may be in spasm, inflamed, or irritated. Located in you buttock and laying right on top of the sciatic nerve as it exits the spine down your leg. When this muscle is inflamed, irritated or in spasm it will cause pressure on the sciatic nerve causing the sciatica like symptoms.

Simple questions that most of you do not know the answers to. The big five questions you need to know are: 1 - How far does your sciatica travel?

Is it chronic or acute? Does this mean you will end up living with sciatica if you have had it for years? Will it continually get worse? 3 - What type of pain do you have?

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.

Sciatica profiles are a simple way you can assess your sciatica to determine if it is serious or not. Whether you need to seek help or if you can help your self at home. Should you be active or not, and if you need to be active which activities are best.

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.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: This is the narrowing of the spinal canal causing sciatica type symptoms. Disk problems and arthritis of the spine can cause this narrowing.

Sciatica refers to pain along the path of the sciatica nerve. It is usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Fortunately, most cases of sciatica are not serious and usually resolve within six weeks. The sciatic nerve branches off nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord - it's two branches run from the lower back through the each side of the pelvis, buttocks, back of leg to the foot.

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.

If you knew the answer to some simple questions then you can easily determine whether you need help, if your sciatica will ease quickly or if you have something actually to be scared of.

Iliolumbar Syndrome: This is simply inflammation or a tear of the ililumbar ligament. This is the back of your pelvis and it extends from the spine to the iliac crest.

Is this likely? Or is your sciatica only minor? Knowing the answers to these sciatica profile questions helps to dispel your fears and frustrations about sciatica. You can then relax knowing with confidence you do not need to be scared of your sciatica.

Different pain characteristics help you understand the actual cause of your pain and what you need to do to remove it. Do you know which type you have?

4 - Does your sciatica get worse or better with activity? Should you rest or be active? Does it make a difference to how fast you will heal? What activity is best to do?

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.

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.

Some signs and symptoms of sciatica are: A cramping sensation of the thigh Shooting pains from the buttock, down the leg Tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations in the legs and thighs A burning sensation in the thigh Maneuvers such as squatting, coughing or sneezing worsen the sciatica symptoms that the patient is having. The cause of the worsened sciatica symptoms is the jerking motion adding pressure that is being placed around the nerve. I mentioned earlier that sciatica is not always caused by a herniated or slipped disk. Some other causes of Sciatica could be:

Causes The sciatic nerve is commonly injured by fractures of the pelvis, gunshot wounds, or other trauma to the buttocks or thigh. Prolonged sitting or lying with pressure on the buttocks may also injure it. Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, can typically damage many different nerves, including the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve may also be harmed by pressure from masses such as a tumor or abscess, or by bleeding in the pelvis.

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

Do you know if your Sciatica is a worry? Should you be scared? Complete this Sciatica Profile to assess how bad your sciatica is, and its free!

Are you one of the over 80% of adults suffering from back pain? Then you need simple, valuable and expert advice. Dr Graeme Teague is an expert in the structural field, and has been in practice since 1991 - visit The Back Pain Advisor - http://www.back-pain-advisor.com for valuable and expert advice, tips and information on your back pain issues.


Anna R. Guidry

 
 
     
 
 





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