Sciatica is the name given to pain caused by irritation of the sciatica nerve. Anything that irritates this nerve can cause sciatica pain, ranging from mild to severe. Sciatica is usually caused by a compressed nerve in the lower spine.
What causes Sciatica? The most common cause of sciatica is a disc prolapse – also known as disc herniation or slipped disc, but lumbar degenerative disc disease, bone spurs, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, or spinal tumors can all result in sciatica.
Sciatica Nerve Pain
Your low back, or lumbar spine, is composed of 5 bones, or vertebra. They are separated by discs, called intervertebral discs, and the function of these discs is to partially cushion, to direct some of the movement in your low back, but mainly to function as spacers between the bones, to give space for your spinal nerves.
In more than 90% of cases, the cause of sciatica pain is related to the discs in your low back.
Sciatica refers to the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your whole body, and is responsible for the sensation for your leg (including pain!), and also for muscle strength and function for your leg. Pretty important!
The confusing thing about sciatica is that you often feel it down your leg, but the ORIGIN of the problem is your low back, because that’s where the sciatic nerve branches from your spinal cord.
The sciatic nerve branches off from multiple points in your low back, but mainly from the bottom vertebra, L4/5 and L5/S1, and also from your sacrum.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it will cause SEVERE SCIATICA PAIN in the areas the sciatic nerve controls: in your low back, into your gluts, into your hip, and down your leg as far as your feet.
Along with pain, sciatica can also cause NUMBNESS, or PINS and NEEDLES or altered sensations.
Because the sciatic nerve is also responsible for controlling the leg muscles, providing strength, you may also feel WEAKNESS in your leg, have DIFFICULTY WALKING, and feel like your leg may GIVE OUT on you.
These are all characteristic symptoms of sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain.
If you’ve had previous issues with low back pain, or had x-rays or MRIs taken of your low back in the past, there is a good chance that you may have been told that there is disc degeneration or spinal arthritis with these vertebra and discs, likely at L4/5 or L5/S1.
Sciatica is most often the progression of a chronic low back problem, from chronic disc degeneration, disc herniations, or arthritis in your low back over years and years.
5 Tips For Sciatica Pain Relief
1. Gentle exercise stretches such as certain yoga positions are very useful as Sciatica exercises.
2. Alternating hold and cold packs. Using a combination of hot and cold packs can go a long way to help relieve the pain. A cold pack can reduce inflammation, which is associated with sciatic nerve pain, whilst heat helps to increase the blood flow to this area. Alternating both cold and heat can give positive results in reducing pain and inflammation.
3. Book a massage with a Registered Massage Therapist. A massage will not only relax the muscles in your back, it can help loosen areas affected by the sciatic nerve, while also improving blood flow. Most insurance plans cover 100% of massage with an RMT up to a specified annual amount.
4. Watch your sugar intake. Added sugars are ingredients that add sweet flavor and calories, but few nutrients to foods. They are also high-glycemic, meaning they have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels. A high-glycemic diet can increase inflammation. A sugar-rich diet also leaves less room for beneficial, anti-inflammatory foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods and beverages particularly high in added sugars include regular soft drinks, candy, pancake syrup, frosting, sweetened cereals, frozen desserts and commercially-prepared cakes, cookies, pies and brownies.
5. Correctly balanced intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of a healthy diet that is associated with lower levels of inflammation. Your body can't manufacture omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—so it's important to get them through your diet. Fish oil provides EPA and DHA, but nutritional supplements such as Nutarniq Essentials provide all the fatty acids required to reduce inflammation, but also others in clinically tested combinations that stimulate nerve regrowth, thus reducing the likelihood of your Sciatica pain recurring.