Chances are good that if you suffer from pain, it’s probably back pain. With more and more people spending long periods of time sitting down, in front of a desk or hunched over a computer screen, it’s no wonder that lower back pain is one of the most common types of back pain among Americans.
Often lower back pain isn’t just run of the mill back pain; sometimes it is due to a more serious affliction known as sciatica. In fact ongoing lower back pain is often a sign that you may have some injury to your sciatic nerve. When there is a pain or pressure on the sciatic nerve, this is a condition called ‘sciatica’.
Sciatic nerve pain can be due to a simple inflammation of the sciatic nerve but it can also be cause by bowel problems, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, an injury or infection. Only once the source of your sciatic nerve pain has been identified can you begin a treatment plan to get rid of the pain.
If you have pain due to an inflammation of the sciatic nerve you will likely experience lower back pain as well as a radiating pain that extends from your lumbar region down to your buttocks and thighs. Some with sciatica often feel tingling and pain all the way down to their feet and toes. This is the entire length that the sciatic nerve runs through the human body, and be more than a little bit painful.
The people who suffer sciatic nerve pain often complain of a burning sensation, numbness and tingling in the affected area and sometimes a dull throbbing ache in the lower back, upper buttocks and thighs. You may, in some severe instances, feel pain when you walk, experience limited mobility and have moments of muscle weakness where you feel as though your leg is wobbly or unresponsive to cues to walk.
Basic movements like walking, bending and twisting may be very painful until you find a pain management plan that targets the source of your lower back and sciatic nerve pain.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief
The first step in lower back pain relief and sciatic nerve pain relief is diagnosis. Without the proper diagnosis, your only hope would be to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of sciatica. During the diagnostic phase you will be asked about family history, lifestyle and medical history to determine what could have caused the sciatic nerve damage. Then you will undergo one or more of the following exams: CT scan, MRI or x-ray to allow the doctor to get a close up look at the lumbar spinal region as well as the sciatic nerve. Other tests may also be available depending on your medical facility.
Once you have confirmed that there is some damage to your sciatic nerve, it is time to begin treating the problem. In the past bed rest was often prescribed to patients with sciatica but science and medical evolution has shown just how ill-conceived this treatment plan is. Bed rest will prevent you from feeling the pain associated with moving, but it does absolutely nothing to treat or mend the sciatic nerve.
Pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs will almost always be part of your early treatment for sciatica and lower back pain. This will ease the pain associated with daily movements so you can get on with your life and begin more physical treatment plans like physical therapy, chiropractic medicine or stretching and exercise.
Alternative lower back pain treatments are also available in the form of acupressure, massage, acupuncture, inversion therapy or heat therapy. It will be up to you to decide which of these treatments is right for you. In some instances your physician may recommend surgery to eliminate lower back pain or relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.