“Missed you at the International conference last week. What happened all okay?” she spoke over the phone to her friend. She responded with pain, this pain is different, it runs down through my hip to my leg. It is so difficult to tolerate this pain. Does not seem to be just BACKPAIN!
An excerpt from a telephonic conversion between two friends aged around 40s simply outlines how intolerable the pain would have been. Backpain is more common than one can think of. As per statistics, 80% of the population suffers from backpain at least once in their lives. It would be medically accurate to classify sciatica pain as one of the common lower back pains.
Read on to know about this troublesome and annoying Sciatica pain.
What is sciatica?
It is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, which branches from your lower back through your hips, buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis in itself, it represents symptom of an underlying medical condition.
What causes sciatic pain?
Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is made up of a number of nerve roots which branch from the spine into the lower back. Sciatic pain occurs when sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. This can occur due to the following causes:
- Spinal disc herniation – The vertebrae in your body are separated and cushioned by round discs of connective tissue. When a disc gets worn down, it’s soft centre begins to push out from the hard outer ring, this is called as disc herniation. When a disc herniates, it puts pressure on the nerves around it and causes sciatic pain. This is the most common cause of sciatica
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – It is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord which causes nerve compression
- Degenerative disc diseases
- Tumors impinging on the spinal cord
- Muscle spasms
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The hallmark symptom is pain that radiates from your lower back into the back or sides of the legs. Some of the other commonly reported symptoms include:
- Pain which is charecteristically present on one side of the lower body
- The pain is often sudden in onset
- Can be aggravated by heavy weight lifting
- Sometimes, you may feel pain in the back of legs which get worsened by sitting
- Other rarely observed symptoms include weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or in some circumstances hip pain.
Are there any risk factors for sciatic pain?
It usually affects people between 30 to 50 years of age. Obesity and pregnancy can put pressure on your spine and may sometimes lead to sciatic pain. Diabetes can also be considered as a risk factor since it can cause nerve damage. People working in jobs which require heavy weight lifting or prolonged sitting may also be at a higher risk.
What are the treatment options available for sciatic pain?
Pain medications – Over the counter drugs like ibuprofen can help relieve pain, although they are usually a short term solution.
Spinal injections – If the pain is severe, epidural steroid injections can be used. These injections reduce the inflammation and swelling of spinal nerve roots thereby reducing the pain, tingling and numbness.
Spinal cord stimulation – Spinal cord stimulation is a procedure that delivers low-level electrical signals to the spinal cord or to specific nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Spinal cord stimulation is recommended when other treatments have not been successful, when surgery is not likely to help, or when surgery has failed.
Radiofrequency ablation – Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA) is a procedure used to reduce pain. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from that specific area. RFA can be used to help patients with chronic (long-lasting) low-back pain. RFA has proven to be a safe and effective way to treat some forms of pain. It also is generally well-tolerated, with very few associated complications.
Ozone disectomy – Injection of Ozone-Oxygen mixture into the disc is a new alternative method of treating patients suffering from back and leg pain (sciatica) caused by disc prolapse. Large number of international studies confirms the efficacy of this treatment and superiority of this treatment over conventional disc surgery
Surgery – Having back surgery can be a difficult choice. Typically, people consider surgery for back pain only after all other treatments have failed to provide relief. Even then, surgery does not provide significant improvement for everyone. And while the risks of back surgery are generally low, they can be serious in some people.
With all of us running around our busy schedules, practicing poor lifestyle habits, trying to utilize our bodies to the fullest to meet all ends is completely justified. However, this comes true only if you are doing enough to support a healthy framework and body. And to do so, you need to make sure you eat healthy, exercise daily, sleep well and yes above all keep stress at bay! Only then can we effectively bring down these skyrocketing numbers of pain and suffering globally.