Have you ever experienced pain originating from your buttocks, which then radiates down to the back of your thigh to your knees? Then, you might be suffering from sciatic pain or sciatica. Sciatica is usually felt in just one leg with intensities varying from continuous burning pain to dull, intermittent pain.
What exactly causes sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the human body and sciatica is the result of pressure on that nerve. This condition comes as a result of various causes. Sometimes, it is caused by poor posture or muscle strain. If you are pregnant or obese, the risk of getting sciatica can become high. Even wearing high heels for an extended period of time or sleeping on a bed that is too soft can cause this pain.
There are also people whose risk of succumbing to sciatica is high. This includes people whose work involves heavy lifting, extended periods of sitting or twisting. Older people are also more likely to get sciatica as compared to their younger counterparts. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to getting sciatica as the disease is known to increase the risk for nerve damage. Osteoarthritis can also cause sciatica. Persons with osteoarthritis have burn spurs which can put pressure on nerves. In rare instances, sciatic pain may be caused by meningitis or spinal cord tumours.
The best way to confirm whether you have sciatica or another condition is to consult a medical professional. Your doctor will run a series of tests including testing for reflexes, muscle strength and sensation, and coordination. It is also possible that your doctor will ask you to lift your leg in a 60-degree angle without bending your knee to allow him to locate the origin of the pain. Some doctors may request you to undergo an X-ray, CAT scan or an MRI.
Once your doctor determines that you indeed have sciatica, he may prescribe you with muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers to help reduce inflammation as well as pain. Once the pain has gone down to a minimal level, a combination of exercise and massage therapy can help.
In addition to this, you can implement a few changes that will help you cope better with this condition. This includes sleeping on a firm mattress, either on your side or back. Putting a pillow either between your knees or under them will allow you to deal with the pain better as you try to sleep. Experts caution against sleeping on one’s stomach. If you work in an office, keep both feet firmly on the ground when sitting. Also, find a chair with adequate back support.