5 Important Things to Know About Sciatica
by AZ Pain Doctors, on May 21, 2020 8:17:00 AM
The spine is incredibly complex.
It protects the central nervous system and the spinal cord. It is the central bone structure that allows humans the ability to stand up straight and walk. As such, back pain in Phoenix can manifest in many different forms. Some people will suffer from upper back pain in Phoenix or neck pain in Phoenix. Others might experience pain in the mid or lower portions of their spinal column. However, one of the most bothersome forms of back pain in Phoenix is often the type that actually radiates down the backside into the leg.
This common condition is referred to as sciatica. It is believed that anywhere between 10 - 40 percent of the general population lives with sciatica, often suffering disruptions in their day-to-day lives as a result. Many people will find it difficult to work, concentrate, sleep, exercise or do anything else when they are dealing with this uncomfortable type of chronic pain in Phoenix.
So what exactly is sciatica, where does it come from and what can people do to help alleviate the symptoms? Read on to find out more.
1. Sciatica is Different than Common Back Pain in Phoenix
When people live with lower back pain in Phoenix, it is often a direct result of some kind of injury or excess strain on the muscles in that area. These damaged muscles are often in close proximity to the spine but the pain might also move down toward the buttocks area as well.
However, only sciatica pain will radiate all the way down the backside of the lower body, including the leg itself. This is because this distinct type of chronic pain in Phoenix is caused when the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lower back but runs down the entire back of the thigh and leg, is compressed.
As such, sciatica is more of a symptom than a condition itself. It might be caused by a number of underlying issues including herniated disks, a narrowing of the openings of the bones of the spinal cord or postural compression. Other uncomfortable symptoms that tend to go hand in hand with sciatic include tingling, numbness or weakness in one or both legs.
2. Different Points of Origin Cause Different Symptoms
The sciatic nerve cluster is rooted as various points across the lower spine. Depending on what vertebrae are affected, the symptoms will often manifest themselves in different areas of the leg. Likewise, the distinct nature of symptoms can help inform a pain clinic in Phoenix as to the best course of treatment for any one case of sciatica. Sciatica may originate in either the sacral, lumbar or combined lumbosacral area of the spine.
Some people may experience atypical symptoms like foot weakness, and might not realize that they are experiencing sciatica. However, muscle weakness in the foot is typically a result of the compression of the L5 nerve in particular. Meanwhile, compression of the S1 nerve root tends to produce the more typical discomfort in the back of the leg and thigh, as well as the outer area of the foot, which is more commonly associated with sciatica. If multiple nerves are affected at once, the symptoms may overlap or feel more severe.
Since the symptoms can vary so widely, sciatica can often easily be misdiagnosed.
3. Taller People Have a Greater Risk of Developing Sciatica
The taller a person is, the greater the chance that they will have to seek out professional pain management in Phoenix for sciatica at some point during their lives. This is because the risk of getting sciatica increases with height. Sciatic is most common in men who are taller than six feet, one inch.
Likewise, overweight people are also more at risk of experiencing the discomfort of sciatica than people who are average weight or underweight.
4. The Cause Dictates the Treatment
In order to successfully treat sciatic, a pain clinic in Phoenix will first seek to understand the underlying cause.
As previously mentioned, sciatica is more of a symptom of some underlying issue in the lower spine, and understanding what is causing sciatica will likewise allow for the most effective pain management in Phoenix.
The good news is that sciatica is treatable, and most who seek out professional pain management in Phoenix experience a degree of relief throughout the course of their non-invasive treatment regime, generally without the worry of problems later down the line.
However, in some more serious cases, surgery will be recommended to relieve symptoms. The long term results of both surgical and non-surgical treatments tend to be about the same, so it is often better to avoid surgery in favor of non-invasive options unless necessary.
5. Sciatic Responds Better to Exercise than It Does to Rest
For those experiencing the discomfort of sciatica, exercise is probably the last thing on their mind. However, low impact physical activity is actually a great way to get the blood pumping, and this will send vital nourishment to those sore or compressed areas of the lower spine. This, in turn, will often help reduce inflammation and release pressure on the nerve.
Exercises like Pilates or yoga that emphasize building and stretching the muscles of the spine can also help eliminate movement habits that are causing sciatica.
However, many postures and stretches can actually aggravate this condition, so it is best to work with a pain clinic in Phoenix to determine what type of movements are safe and what type of movements will aggravate sciatica. Learning proper, safe ways to move will help anybody living with sciatica enjoy the benefits of exercise without exacerbating their discomfort.
Living with sciatica is no walk in the park. Nerve compression issues tend a type of discomfort that feels more severe and difficult to pin down than typical muscular issues, and just because sciatica is common doesn’t mean that people should have to suffer through it.
On the contrary, seeking out professional pain management in Phoenix can help nip the underlying issue in the bud so that it does not continue to be a prevalent problem in a person’s life. To learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pain clinic in Phoenix today.