Do you know your Sciatica ABC’s ?
The following primer will help spell out the ABC’s of sciatica, which is often very tricky to diagnose and treat. Of course, self-diagnosis is never sound or wise medical practice and shouldn’t be substituted for a conversation with your physician.
To be sure about the root of your symptoms, make an appointment with your spine specialist to find out whether you have a muscle strain, herniated disc, spinal stenosis or something else.
“A” — Attributes
Back pain that radiates into the hip, butt and down the leg is characteristic of sciatica. It will likely only affect one side and you might also experience numbness, tingling or weakness. People have described the symptoms to feel like cramps in the leg.
“B” – Beating The Odds
Want to avoid getting sciatica in the first place? Preventing muscle strain or herniated discs should be your goal. Mind your posture, while sitting and standing, just like Mom always told you. Lift your loads properly, using your legs and not your back, while taking care to avoid twisting or reaching at the same time. Regular exercise is also the best therapy to keep your spine healthy and the supporting muscles strong so they can do what it is they do best: protect you and keep you moving!
“C” – Causes
Sometimes the onset of symptoms is sudden and unexplained, and they may go away in time. Other times, sciatica is triggered by an injury or spine condition like degenerative disease, herniated disc or spinal stenosis: all of which can impinge upon the sciatic nerve. According to WebMd, it occurs most often among adults between the ages of 30 and 50, with a common group being pregnant women who must cope with the effects of a growing fetus pressing onto the nerve. In rare instances, a growing tumor may be to blame. Piriformis muscle spasms are yet another explanation for the condition. In an earlier blog we talked about how this muscle becomes aggravated.
“D” – Diagnosis
Your spine specialist will ask you specific questions and have you perform certain movements during your exam to determine if its likely that your back pain is related to sciatica. He may ask you to walk on your toes, then heels, and even perform a squat and leg lifts! If necessary, an MRI or CT scan may provide further explanation as to whether a herniated disc or other musculoskeletal condition exists.
“E” – Effective Treatment
Often, the pain will respond to home therapies like analgesics, anti-inflammatory medication, alternating heat and ice packs and a brief rest period. After that, your doctor will recommend stretches and gentle exercise you can perform to improve flexibility and promote healing. Alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage or even yoga may be soothing. If necessary, steroid injections can help reduce inflammation. When these treatments are ultimately not effective, it may be necessary to undergo surgery.
From A to Z, or in this case E, know the facts but consult your spine specialist to get the proper diagnosis. If you have sciatica, and the underlying cause is herniated disc, spinal stenosis or some other condition, it is important that you begin the correct treatment protocol to prevent further harm.