Sciatica - Symptoms, Causes, And How To Cure
- Author :
- TATA AIG Team
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Sciatica is nerve pain from injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. It's a common lower back disorder among the older demographic and can be quite troublesome to deal with. However, most people with sciatica get better with self-care treatments or proper medication.
Generally, any back pain radiating down to the leg is referred to as sciatica. However, actual sciatic nerve damage is quite rare. Treatments can often vary with your condition, from over-the-counter medication to spinal injections or surgery in some extreme cases.
A health insurance plan covering sciatica or lower back conditions can help patients handle the medical costs associated with the treatments. Or make sure your current medical insurance covers this if you think you are at risk of developing sciatica.
What Is Sciatica
Sciatica, or sciatica’s meaning, is a result of nerve damage or irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the thickest and longest nerve in your body and comprises five nerves. These nerves form a right and left sciatic nerve going down your legs through your lower back. Sciatica symptoms include pain that originates from your lower back and radiates down to your legs.
If you have sciatica, you can experience mild to severe pain along the sciatic nerve path. So anywhere from the lower back, hips and legs. You can also experience numbness in the leg and foot or unpleasant tingling/pins and needle feeling in your leg. Note that you will feel pain in only one leg at a given moment.
People describe sciatic pain differently according to its cause. Some people describe it as sharp jolts of pain; others describe it as a stabbing, burning, or electric pain. The pain is often more severe in your lower leg than in your back.
Sciatica is a prevalent complaint among older individuals. In addition, with more people leading sedentary lifestyles, lower back pain and strain have become common complaints. However, it's important to note that sciatica is a symptom, not a condition.
Here are some common causes of sciatica pain symptoms.
Ageing can cause the wearing down of bone tissue and the disks in your spine. This can put your nerves at risk of being pinched or damaged by the changes and shifts in your bones and disks.
-Getting Injured In Your Lower Back Or Spine
Any spinal or lower back injuries increase your risk of developing this condition. The most common injury that causes sciatica is disk herniation. Or arthritis in the spine that can happen gradually.
Your spine is what holds your body upright. This means it is responsible for holding up all the weight you carry in the front of your body. The heavier you are, the more your back muscles have to work to support your torso. This can lead to general back pain, strains, and other issues.
-Have A Weak Core
Your core muscles support your back and abdomen. The stronger your core, the more support your lower back has. Unlike your chest area, which is supported by your ribcage, your lower back only has your core to rely on for support.
-Active Or Physical Demanding Jobs
Jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting or strenuous labour can increase your risk for sciatica and other lower back problems.
Having diabetes increases your risk of nerve damage, which can increase your chance of sciatica.
Osteoarthritis causes damage to your spine and puts you at risk of developing sciatica.
-Leading A Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting for long periods and not regularly exercising can increase your risk for lower back problems and sciatica. In addition, reports suggest that people who lead sedentary lifestyles are more at risk of developing sciatica than people who lead active lifestyles.
Nicotine in tobacco causes damage to spinal tissue, weakens bones and increases the deterioration of vertebral disks.
Sciatica is common during pregnancy. This is because certain hormones during pregnancy can cause the loosening of the ligaments, which can cause the spine to become unstable and prone to injury. Additionally, the baby's weight and position can add pressure to the nerve.
The goal of sciatica treatment is to decrease pain and increase mobility. Depending on the cause, most cases of sciatica go away on their own after making some lifestyle changes.
The treatments can be divided into two types:
Treatments Provided By Healthcare Professionals
Sciatica Self-Care Treatments
Applying Ice/Hot Packs To Reduce Pain
Ice packs can be used for 20 minutes, several times a day, on the swollen area, which can help reduce swelling in the affected area. Hot packs can be used after, for the same 20 minutes, several times a day.
-Over-The-Counter (Otc) Medicine
OTC medicines can be taken to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. These can include anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Of course, discussing with your healthcare professional is always advised before taking any medication, in case you are already on other prescriptions or have other pre-existing conditions.
Stretches targeted to relieve lower back pain can help manage the pain and help you lead an active lifestyle. In addition, core muscle strengthening exercises are often recommended to help relieve lower back pain.
Sciatica Treatments Provided By Healthcare Professionals
These come in if your condition worsens or you don't see improvements when using OTC medicines and self-care treatments.
These come in when over-the-counter medications are ineffectual. Doctors can prescribe more potent dosages to help deal with the pain and discomfort in more severe cases.
Physical therapy is designed to help patients practise exercise movements that can help relieve pain and pressure on the sciatic nerve. Exercises like aerobics, swimming, stretching exercises, etc., are commonly suggested by physical therapists.
Injections containing corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory medications are injected into your lower back to help reduce pain and swelling around the nerves. These injections provide short time pain relief and are administered under local anaesthesia.
In most cases, sciatica is manageable and can be handled by making specific changes and leading a more active lifestyle. However, surgery might be necessary in more severe cases when you don't see improvement under other treatments.
This is where Tata AIG's health insurance plans can help you cover the costs. Additionally, even if you don't need surgery, your medical insurance can make you eligible for health insurance tax benefits, which is always a nice bonus.
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