Do you think it is you have trapped nerve in your leg causing sciatica pain? Feeling confused with why you have pain going down your leg? Is it a severe leg pain? Maybe you have a trapped sciatic nerve creating sciatica pain down your leg.
Sciatica pain is a common thing to hear people complaining about when their left leg or right leg is giving them pain. Do you know what is sciatica and what can treatment you can do for sciatica pain relief? That is what this article will be about today.
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What is Sciatica Pain
How do you even spell it, is it syatic, sciatic, siactica?
The answer is it is spelt sciatica which is a trapped nerve pain of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is what lots of patients come into a chiropractor’s office looking for pain relief of these trapped nerve in leg.
Before you can get pain relief from sciatica you need a better understanding of sciatica.
Find out below what is sciatica, sciatica symptoms & diagnosis of sciatica.
I have looked at what you can do for sciatica pain relief treatment with some tips on basic sciatica exercises.
What is Sciatica
Sciatica is not a diagnosis but a symptom of a trapped nerve or pinched nerve condition.
The nerve that is trapped in sciatica pain can be one of five nerve roots leaving the spine. It can also be the whole sciatic nerve being trapped somewhere along the nerves pathway from the spine to the toes.
Back pain conditions that cause a trapped sciatic nerve are:
- Lumbar disc herniation,
- Osteo-arthritis of the lumbar spine (spondylosis),
- Muscle spasm causing piriformis syndrome,
- Sacro-iliac joint dysfunction (SI dysfunction)
Sciatica pain is a pain that runs down the back of the thigh at times extending below the knee into the calf muscle or ankle, foot or toes. The leg pain follows same pathway that the sciatic nerve supplies the leg.
Leg pain can be sciatica or not. This is where your chiropractor or doctor would perform orthopaedic and neurological tests to help confirm the source of your leg pain.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The major sciatica symptom would be pain in the leg. Again, the pain would be in the same path as where the sciatic nerve supplies.
You may have sciatica if you have these sciatica symptoms:
- Pain in the buttock, usually only one side
- Pain down the back of your thigh
- Pain in the calf
- Pins and needles in your feet or toes
- Numb feeling in the sole of your foot
- Limp with walking
- Low back pain and leg pain
Diagnosis of Sciatica
Remember sciatica is not a diagnosis. Some other condition is irritating the sciatic nerve.
A healthcare professional will be able to tell you after thorough health questions and a physical examination, including orthopaedic and neurological testing, whether or not your leg pain or thigh pain is a trapped sciatic nerve.
Not all leg pain comes from the sciatic nerve being trapped at the spine.
Other causes of leg pain can be:
- DVT clot pain in your leg
- Pulled hamstring muscle
- Hip arthritis
- Knee arthritis
Do you need an x-ray with sciatica?
X-rays of your lower back or leg will not confirm sciatica. X-rays are not usually required unless your chiropractor or doctor feels there is a reason for an x-ray to explain your sciatica pain.
X-rays show what is happening at the bone and not the nerve tissue.
Do I need an MRI Scan?
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, is usually not an immediate necessity to diagnosis your sciatica problem. This is because a MRI scan is usually used when needing a surgical consultation or if the doctor worries why there is a such delayed sciatica pain relief or an unusual concern for the cause of pain, like a tumour etc…
Sorry I am repeating myself here, but remember “sciatica is a symptom not a diagnosis”. Only once you have being diagnosed with what is causing your trapped sciatica nerve pain will you be able to find out what sciatica treatment options are best for you.
This is why I think it is important to see a health care professional first.
Sciatica treatment from different doctors can vary according to what they believe is causing your pain. Speak to your local doctor first before trying any self-treatment sciatica pain relief tips below.
Basic Sciatica Pain Relief Tips
Read this sciatica pain relief section if you are already under the care of a healthcare professional. These tips are for if you are still struggling with sciatica pain levels.
Here are some basic sciatica pain relief tips that may help you:
Using a protected soft mouldable cold pack for 20-30 minutes on your lower back along the belt line area can ease the pain and swelling irritating your sciatic nerve. Do not let the cold pack touch your skin directly otherwise you’ll cause freezer burn on your skin. For ice try a bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel or one of those blue jelly packs that stays soft in the freezer.
2. Diaphragm Breathing
A breath from your ‘stomach’ or diaphragm breathing is better than stressed breathing from your chest. When you breath IN PUSH you stomach OUT & when you breath OUT PULL your stomach IN. This sciatica exercise will reduce stress and fatigue on your back muscles.
3. Muscle Co-Contraction
Co-contraction is when you gently tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles in-sync. Before moving, like bending or getting up from a seat, try gently tightening your abdominal muscle by PULLING IN your BELLY BUTTON. Now try SQUEEZE your buttock muscle TOGETHER. This sciatica exercise action will try protect you lower back spine from moving with pain.
4. Sleep Positions
Sleep helps reduce pain levels, but is very difficult throbbing pain in your leg and aching sciatica. Some of the best sleep positions for sciatica pain are 1) FLAT on your back with a pillow under your knees to create a slight bend. 2) Lay on the most comfortable side with pillow or duvet between your knees. Also on your side try moving your knees toward your chest or straighten your legs till comfortable.
5. Lumbar Chair Cushion
The lower back has a spinal natural curve called a lumbar lordosis. You can support the lumbar lordosis with cushions or pillows in the small of your back. Use a lumbar support for your lower back whilst sitting on the sofa, work chair and the car seat.
6. Lumbar Belt Support
A lumbar support belt is an elasticated belt to support your lower back. The lumbar support belt is also known as a “kidney belt” in gym circles and can help some peoples sciatica. Using a lumbar support belt is not usually recommended in the long-term as it creates a psychological dependence on it.
7. Keep Hydrated
Make sure you are drinking enough daily fluids, like water, because dehydration will lower your healing ability.
8. Pain Killers
Your GP will be able to provide you with pain medication. You can also speak to a pharmacist for a basic over the counter sciatica medication to control your pain levels. Best to speak to your local GP or pharmacist about all the different options for pain relief medication.
9. Inversion Traction Therapy
Did you know an inversion traction table at home to create low back traction and release the pressure on the sciatic nerve may potentially reduce your risk for spinal surgery from 78% to 28%. CAUTION must be advised when using inversion therapy on your own as home inversion traction hasn’t been conclusively shown to create substantial relief from discogenic back pain, but there has been some positive results. Speak to your current doctor first before using any home inversion traction therapy.
10. Avoid Heavy Stretching
Trying to stretch the leg pain out of your leg could be stressing the trapped nerve more. The nerve is like a rope trapped at the spine. Any stretching must be gentle and controlled so not to stress the sciatic nerve further.
11. McKenzie Exercises
Mckenzie exercises are a great for sciatica pain from a disc herniation or disc bulge. Putting your lower back into repeated extension helps the disc heal and can relieve the trapped nerve pain in your leg quickly. For this sciatica exercise check out “Bent Over with Lower Back Pain – Here’s the Reason Why“.
These are just some basic sciatica exercises and tips to get sciatica pain relief. These trapped nerve pain relief tips are not exhaustive. However, the sciatica exercises might help guide you in other ways in getting some leg pain relief and sciatica pain relief today.
Hope you get some rest from your sciatica pain soon.