What is Sciatica?
If you suffer from Sciatica, or you’re close to someone who does, you already know that it is one of those conditions that can be quite overwhelming and incapacitating while causing a lot of discomfort even when attempting simple daily chores. You must also know that the pain caused by sciatica can be excruciating around the hips and the legs. What many people don’t know is, that when the right treatment is applied early enough, this condition can heal completely.
Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body and controls the muscles that are in the lower back of the knee and leg. When a disorder in the lower back (lumbar spine) exists, it is likely to cause sciatica. This is because the sciatic nerve is a combination of five sets of paired nerve roots in the lumbar spine and when any of these nerves is compressed or pinched, it causes pressure on the nerve route that leads to the irritating pain, weakness and numbness.
Apart from the compression of one of the nerves, there are other known causes of sciatica which include:
A herniated disc: This refers to as a slipped disc and occurs when the inner soft tissues of the disc leak out to the outer core and affects the nerve root that results into a herniated disc. The leaked disc tissues contain an acidic chemical that is irritating and results into nerve inflammation and pain.
Lumbar spinal stenosis: This is a nerve compression disorder that’s mostly common with older people and results into the narrowing of the spinal canal. The condition may be caused by the overgrowth of soft tissue or a bulging disc that exerts pressure on the nerve roots resulting into sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome: This condition occurs when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that’s found deep in the buttocks tightens. It can exert pressure and irritate the sciatic nerve resulting into pain.
Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This condition is caused by a slip of one vertebra resulting in misalignment. When there’s fracture or disc space collapse, where one vertebral body slips over the one below due to fracture on the bone connecting the two joints, the root nerve can easily get triggered and cause sciatica. The fracture can be caused by stress on the bone.
Trauma: External pressure on the spinal nerve roots resulting from accidents, falling, or any other external force to the lumber has the potential of causing compression to the nerves that can also lead to sciatica.
Understanding what sciatica is all about and the various causes leading to it provides you with the right information and enables you to take the necessary action for total healing and freedom from this condition.
It is important to understand that sciatica caused by different factors needs to be treated differently; the one size fits all approach does NOT work for sciatica and can indeed worsen your condition – New England Journal of Medicine (2015).
Why Conventional Sciatica Treatments Often Fail
If you visit a doctor about your sciatica, he or she is likely to prescribe pain- killing medication. This can be useful as a short-term fix and may also reduce inflammation.
The problem is that medication doesn’t address the underlying cause of sciatica. If you have a compressed or irritated nerve, drugs often just hide the problem without resolving what’s really causing your pain.
The most commonly prescribed treatment for sciatica pains are the non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen, aspirin and diclofenac.
However, the NSAIDS have significant adverse effects if used for a longer period and can result into conditions like a heart attack for those having heart conditions. Using NSAIDS for long-term has been found to be the second most common cause of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, as reported in the Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine Journal (2015).
Precaution should, therefore, be taken when dealing with NSAIDS for a prolonged period to avoid any further risk. NSAIDS also have various side effects like drowsiness, high blood pressure, headaches, and reduced kidney function. It has also been reported that ulcers caused by NSAIDS are more likely to bleed than those caused by bacteria.
The worst part about relying on such medications to deal with sciatica pain? If something you are doing is causing sciatica…such as putting excessive load on the spine during certain movements…then masking the pain with drugs could cause you to keep repeating the action and make your pain worse.
This is a big problem with the modern approach of pain management. It’s also why many people suffer for years with sciatic pain even though they are receiving traditional medical treatments.
Can Chiropractors Eliminate Sciatic Pain?
Another common treatment for sciatica is chiropractic manipulation. There is some low-quality evidence that this can provide relief for short-term sciatica…but there is little or no evidence that it can work for chronic sciatic pain – The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2012).
There have also been reports that sciatic manipulation can cause a condition called cauda equina syndrome – a serious problem that can lead to loss of function in regions of the lower back. It can even result in sexual dysfunction or loss of bladder control.
Considering there isn’t much evidence to suggest that chiropractic manipulations can reduce sciatic pain, it’s hard to recommend it as a treatment when it’s potentially linked to more serious problems such as cauda equina.
Sciatica Exercises – Why You MUST Perform the Right Exercises According to the Cause of Your Sciatica
If you’re suffering from sciatica, you may feel like you don’t want to do any exercise or physical activity. This is understandable – especially if pain is severe. Even so, it’s vital to stay active to prevent your muscles from becoming weak and stiff.
The best way to do this is through a guided sciatica exercise program. By using a combination of strengthening and mobility exercises, you can maintain strength and reduce compression of the sciatic nerve. This can lead to a relatively quick improvement in pain levels.
You shouldn’t just Google a random set of exercises for sciatica though. This is a common mistake – but can lead to increased pain and recovery times. It’s also one of the main reasons why people who use sciatica exercise programs don’t successfully reduce their pain – The Spine Journal (2015).
Why Sciatica Exercise Programs Are Often Ineffective
Sciatica can be caused by a range of different problems, including a herniated disc in the spine, spinal infections, repetitive injuries, enlarged ligaments…and many more. Performing the wrong exercise for the underlying cause of your sciatica could actually make your pain worse – and may increase the time taken for a full recovery.
If, for example, your sciatica is caused by excessive bending of the spine, then exercises to increase lumbar range of motion could make the condition worse. In contrast, these same exercises can be very effective at treating sciatica caused by excessive muscle tightness around the sciatic nerve.
This is why you should be extremely careful when finding a sciatic exercise routine online. In fact, unless the program recommends different exercises for each cause of sciatica, you SHOULD avoid it – The Medical Clinics of North America Journal (2014).
What is An Effective Strategy To Treating Sciatica?
If conventional treatments are ineffective for sciatica healing – or can even make the problem worse – what can you use instead?
There are a number of effective treatments available. These include certain home remedies that combat the inflammation, specific movements that re-align the body and eliminate stresses on the nerve, therapy while you sleep and others. These treatments have helped me and thousands of people to overcome their sciatic pain without expensive or dangerous therapies.
If you’ve spent time researching sciatica cures, you’ve probably already heard about my guide Sciatica SOS™ – a treatment program that guarantees to eliminate your pain in as little as 7 days. It has all of the above mentioned components that makes it an effective strategy to treating sciatica in a natural way.
Find out more by watching this FREE video:
To your health,
Former sciatica sufferer,
Coach and guide on living a sciatica-free life