Many of us who have busy lifestyles sitting at a desk job for hours at an end and then being active at home with our kids for the rest of our day, suffer from sharp shooting pain or heaviness in the legs and/or back pain. This pain in the legs is commonly described as Sciatica. In this blog we will discuss what is sciatica and how and why does it occur? It is very important to understand these to get a better understanding of your sciatica. This will help you to make better and informed treatment choices when you discuss your symptoms and treatment plan with your doctor or healthcare professional.
Sciatica is usually defined as pain due to irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve any where along its path from the lower back down into the legs. Lets break this sentence down into simpler terms that are easy to understand. In our spine the vertebra are stacked on top of each other all the way from our neck to the tail bone. Every two vertebrae have a disc in between them and there are nerves exiting from both sides of the spine. When these nerves are irritated or compressed this can lead to a nerve pain. The area of nerve pain will depend on the location of the nerve irritation. If the nerves are compressed in the cervical spine or neck it can lead to nerve pain in the arms and hands and if the nerves are compressed in the lumbar spine or lower back it can lead to nerve pain in the bottom or legs. Sciatic nerve is one of the nerves that originate in the lower back. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed anywhere along this path of the nerve. The cause of sciatica can arthritis or an inflammation in the nerve or spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis or disc bulge or anything that can potentially irritate or pinch on the sciatic nerve. It can start suddenly if the cause is an injury to the nerve or a disc bulge. Or it can develop gradually if the cause is degeneration or arthritis of the spine. It can get aggravated by activities such as walking, running or simply sitting for long hours.
There is a wide variation in symptoms of sciatica. You may feel only heaviness in the leg with sciatica while another person might feel a tingling numbness in the leg. This reason is that all nerves in our body are made of up a bundle of nerve fibres that carry different sensations to and from the brain to the body, such as heat, cold, tingling numbness, burning, sharp shooting pain, dull achy pain, etc. Depending on which fibre within the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed that is the kind of a nerve pain felt by the person.
Sciatic pain can be felt anywhere from the lower back to the bottom to the hamstrings (back of your thighs) or your calves (back of the legs) or all the way down to your toes, as the sciatic nerve originates in the lower back and runs down all the way to the toes along the back of the thigh and leg. Another interesting variation in sciatica is that it can be one sided or can affect both the legs or it can switch between the two legs (alternating sciatica).
If you have been suffering from leg pain and are not sure if it is sciatica watch this video on How Can You Tell if You Have Sciatica - 5 Signs about the Pain in Your Bottom:
If you want to learn more about easy ways to manage your back pain and sciatica, join my free community where we discuss this in the free trainings on "Simple solutions to manage your Nerve Pain" and "Simple solutions to manage your Back Pain". Click HERE to join.
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