Exercise is Medicine by ACSM


June 12, 2022 / Uncategorized

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A common type of pain associated with the sciatic nerve affects may people, particularly in their low back and left leg areas. Sciatica usually affects this one side of the body starting at the low back, running through the thigh, and then all the way down the leg. It can even reach the toes. This pain can be a shooting sensation or tingly feeling. It becomes worse from sitting. Then when the person stands the pain is intensified. It feels best to just lie down or to be walking. This pain choses to either be constant or can be infrequent and come and go. It affects mostly middle-aged adults as it a condition that typically develops over time. It can get worse over time, so attention should be provided when this type of pain arises.  


The root of the lower lumbar spine and lumbosacral spine can become irritated. This could be caused by a muscle spasm that took place in the glutes or the lower back. Being overweight, sleeping on a bad mattress, wearing high heels, and not regularly exercising can cause discomfort to the sciatic nerve. It can also be caused by lumbar spinal stenosis which occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrowed in the lower back. A herniated disc can cause this pain. This causes the nerve to be pinched. When the piriformis muscle is irritated, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. This is the muscle right under the buttocks. Spondylolithesis can cause this pain which occurs when one vertebrae slips over another one. Pregnancy can cause pressure to the sciatic nerve. Degenerative disc disease can also be a culprit which is when the discs are starting to breakdown and this wearing leaves less cushion between the vertebrae. Tobacco use can cause increased degeneration.  


Most times sciatica will go away over time without surgery. Heat and ice can help the pain. Pain medications can be used to help with inflammation. This can also be done by having an epidural steroid injection. Other treatments include seeking the help of a chiropractor to adjust and manipulate the area to alleviate pressure on the nerve. Acupuncture can also be used. Massage can help too. Stretching, low impact aerobics, and resistance training to help the surrounding area, can all be used to improve sciatica. Physical therapy is another approach.  

There are two types of surgery that can be done when the above options have been exhausted. A microdiscectomy can be done to remove the disc that is pinching the nerve. It has been known to be 90% effective for patients. Doctors only consider this approach if the sciatic pain has persisted for over 6 weeks and none of the alternative measures have worked. Lumbar laminectomy can be done when the pain is from lumbar spinal stenosis. In this case, the bone or disc removed that is pinching the nerve.  

Living with pain can be difficult, depressing, and hinder your enjoyment of activities you once performed. Pain is your body speaking to you to seek help, so when that one side of the body is talking to you, don’t wait for it to get worse before you allow it to get better. Be proactive for your health, move your body for medicine, and aim to live comfortably in your body as pain free as possible.