Sciatica is a pain that spreads out to the lower back, buttocks, down the leg to the foot. The pain is caused due to the pinching or inflammation of the sciatica nerve. This sciatica pain usually subsides in a few weeks time and in rare cases it may ail the person for a few months. The nervous system constitutes the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. It starts from the spinal cord and runs down to the lower back, thigh region and the knees. At the knee joint, it divides into two nerves, one of which runs down the back portion of the leg to the foot and the other on the front portion of the leg into the foot. The sciatica nerve is not only responsible for the feeling and sensation within the leg but also it controls the muscles in the leg and the foot.
Sciatica as the name suggests, is a condition ailing the sciatica nerve due to irritation in it which may arise due to nerve dysfunction or nerve compression. The pain due to sciatica can be both acute as well as chronic. The Acute sciatica pain is a short term condition which does not require much of professional treatment but can be treated with over the counter medications, exercises and hot and cold application. On the other hand, the chronic sciatica pain lasts for more than a month and requires chiropractic help along with heat application, exercising and surgery.
The pain due to sciatica may result in multiple symptoms which are:
- Cramping in the leg
- The leg may witness varied sensations like numbness, prickling, tingling, and burning sensation or feeling of electric shock while sneezing, coughing or sitting.
- Muscles of the leg may become weak due to the pain in the nerve.
- In severe cases, the patient shows an inability in controlling bowel movements and the bladder evacuation.
The sciatica is caused due to the compression of the sciatica nerve. This compression can occur due to multiple reasons, some of these reasons are:
- Herniated disc
- Degenrative Arthiritis
- Accidents/Injury in the Piriformis muscle
- Strenous Physical Posture and Activities
- Prior health condition.
Does Sciatica Ever Go Away?
The sciatica pain ususally subsides by itself. In most of the cases the pain lessens within four to eight weeks by following simple measures likes stretching exercises, heat and cold application, usage of over the counter medications like NSAIDS, etc. The other ways in which one can get relief from sciatica pain are as follows:
- Pain Relievers for Sciatica Pain: The pain relievers such as NSAIDs are also given in combination with other muscle relaxants, which further help in curbing the condition. In chronic cases where these pain relievers prove to be ineffective, then narcotics are prescribed to deal with the condition as they help in obstructing the pain signals generated by the brain due to enhanced production of endorphins. Though effective, narcotics are known for their side effects as well; thus the medication course should be halted with the slightest improvement.
- Chiropractic Therapy to Treat Sciatica Pain: The physiotherapy sessions are prescribed post the reduction in the pain. The sessions generally involve the massage therapy, stretching exercises, improvement in posture as well as flexibility which focus at the strengthening of lower back and leg muscles.
- Surgical Measures to Relieve Sciatica Pain: The surgical measures are opted to check and correct the herniated vertebral discs. The surgery is done in the scenarios when the patient suffers from severe weakness, loss of bladder control and bowel control, thereby worsening the pain. The surgery that is done to treat the condition is called microdiskectomy in which the herniated disc is removed to relieve the pressure and strain on the sciatica nerve.
- Acupuncture for Sciatica Pain: It uses needles to target the irritated sciatic nerves and soothe them down to reduce the lower back pain.
- Therapeutic Yoga to Treat Sciatica Pain: It promotes stress reduction and improves flexibility of the lower limb thereby relieving the pain, and further prevent the reoccurrence of the condition.
- Osteopathic Manipulation to Relieve Sciatica Pain: This treatment involves usage of manipulation techniques that work on the muscles associated with the vertebral column to improve the lower back support and motion.
- Bodywork Techniques to Treat Sciatica Pain: This is a therapeutic technique which follows manipulation and relaxation techniques that aim to improve posture, mend the movement patterns and lengthening of the body to relapse the tension within. It greatly helps in relieving pain and diminishes the chances of the recurrence of pain.
How Long Does the Sciatica Pain Last?
The duration, intensity and persistence of sciatica pain varies among the suffering individuals. In the common scenarios, the acute sciatica pain subsides in around a month whereas the chronic one can stay up for several months. If not treated on time or neglected, the condition could lead to situation where moving the lower limb becomes extremely difficult staying back for years together.
However, it has been observed that sticking to conservative therapeutic measures like yoga, acupuncture, body work and other techniques, can significantly reduce or diminish the sciatica pain. When these measures fail to provide sufficient relief then pain killers and surgical measures are opted to treat the condition. Hence, the outlook for the sciatica pain condition is excellent with optimal treatments.