Sciatica, help!

Posted on April 9, 2018

Chronic low back pain is the most common cause of disability in Americans younger than 45 years old. Statistics show that it is the second most frequent reason to visit a physician for a chronic condition, third most frequent surgical procedure,  and the fifth most common cause for hospitalization. Experts predict that at least 80% of the American population will experience chronic low back pain during their lifetime. Heavy manual jobs cause tremendous amounts of injuries to workers, and Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 76% of all workers comp claims are due to back sprains and strains.

Sciatica, help

What is causing chronic low back pain?

The diagnoses of spinal conditions are rarely specific due to injuries that affect not one, but several structures: discs, muscles, and facet joints. Besides injuries, many other chronic conditions cause chronic spine illnesses such as inflammatory arthropathy, fibromyalgia, metabolic bone conditions.

There are many different types and specific diagnoses of chronic low back pain. In today’s post, we will cover a condition called sciatica.

Sciatica is one of the most common diseases caused by lumbar disc herniation. It is a pain in the lower extremity resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve and is typically felt from the low back (lumbar area) to behind the thigh and can radiate down below the knee. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb.

Sciatica is treated by non-surgical methods such as rest, applying of heat/ice, pain medications, epidural steroid injections.

The severity, recovery time, and treatment options for sciatica vary and depend on many factors, such as:

1. Exercise.

People who exercise on a regular basis tend to recover from sciatica much quicker than those who don’t. Exercise, however, does not prevent sciatica, but a core strength contributes to the stability of a spine which later leads to fast rebound for patients.

2. Physiotherapy.

Centralization is a term used to describe the reduction of pain in an extremity so that pain moves from distal to more proximal. Most patients with sciatica experience the centralization phenomenon. Patients are encouraged to schedule visits with doctors or therapists who are familiar with this approach.

3. Fear of movement.

Patients with sciatica may prolong their recovery time by avoiding normal activities and light exercise, as they are almost always afraid to cause more pain. However, “bed rest” can cause more harm than good. A qualified pain management practitioner can determine if a patient can be a candidate for exercise with their sciatica.

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