Sciatica is a popular kind of pain caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Although sciatica can be very painful, it is rare for the disorder to cause permanent nerve damage, usually the condition will get better within a few weeks.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Changes related to age in the spine such as herniated disks and bone spurs are the most common causes of sciatica,
- A job that heavily requires you to twist your back might play a role in sciatica, but there is no conclusive research on this link,
- Long-term sitting,
When Sciatica Is Serious?
Certain sciatica symptoms might require immediate medical, and possibly surgical intervention, although this is quite rare. These contain, but are not limited to, progressive neurological symptoms (e.g., leg weakness) and/or cauda equina syndrome (bowel or bladder dysfunction). Spinal tumors or infection can also cause sciatica.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Mild sciatica usually goes away within a few weeks. However, call your doctor if self-care measures fail to ease your symptoms or if your pain is getting worse and increasing in frequency and severity.
Specifically, get immediate medical care if there is:
- A sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg,
- Numbness or muscle weakness in your leg,
- Pain after a violent injury such as a traffic accident,
- Trouble controlling your bowels or urinary bladder.
Treatment and Self-Care
Treatment of sciatica mainly focused on addressing the cause of symptoms rather than just the symptoms since this pain is caused by an underlying medical condition. Self-care and/or nonsurgical treatment is more common, but surgery should be considered in case severe or intractable pain and dysfunction might occur.
Can Sciatica Be Prevented?
Some causes of sciatica are not preventable, such as accidental falls, degenerative disc disease, and back strain due to pregnancy. Even though it might not be possible to prevent all cases of sciatica, you can always take steps to reduce your risk and protect your back.
- Practice proper lifting techniques. For example, lift with your back straight, bring yourself up to your hips and legs and hold the object close to your chest. You can use this technique to lift everything, regardless of their weight.
- Avoid or stop cigarette smoking, since cigarette promotes disc degeneration.
- Avoid sitting for long periods.
- Maintain good posture when sitting, standing, and sleeping. Good posture wil helps to decrease the pressure on your lower back.
- Have a regular physical activity routine in order to strengthen the muscles of your back and abdomen, which work to support your spine.
In general, sciatic pain usually goes away with time and rest. Most people with sciatica will get better without surgery, and about half of affected individuals recover from an episode within six weeks. Therefore, always stay positive since this will fasten your healing progress.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: February 21, 2017 | Last Modified: February 21, 2017
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Pain Management and Sciatica. http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/sciatica-symptoms. Accessed January 13th, 2017.
Low Back Pain and Sciatica. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1144130-overview#a2. Accessed January 13th, 2017.