Because the nerve is so long, it is not surprising that any inflammation of this nerve can causes extensive pain over a very large area of the body. The sciatic nerve stretches from the spinal cord to the buttock and hips, and then it continues down the back of both legs. Now sciatica itself isn’t a problem, it is when something affects this nerve that sciatic pain is caused. For example, if a disc presses on the sciatic nerve, it causes sciatic pain, or sciatica as it is more often called.
pinched sciatic nerve
treatment of sciatica - walking is now recommended over bedrest
Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc pressing on the sciatic nerve causing pain which feels like it is in the lower back, in the buttock, and often continues down the leg and into the foot. Because the pain is over such a large area, it can be very debilitating. Sciatica symptoms are often described as a dull pain, or a burning, tingly or numb feeling, and it can be continuous or intermittent. Usually it only affects one side of the body, for which people are very thankful, but you can see from its symptoms that it affects different people different ways.
One of the most common questions by anyone suffering from this terrible condition is, how long does sciatica last? Unfortunately, there is no one answer because it depends on the cause. A short-term cause of inflammation that is relieved by ice can produce almost immediate pain relief. Whereas some serious back conditions – spondylolesthesis, for example – create a problem that can cause life-long sciatica unless the sufferer undergoes successful surgery.
Now, once you know that what you are feeling is sciatic pain, what can you do about it? In the past, bed rest has been ordered, but more recently a Dutch study has found that bed rest in fact gives no more relief than moving around, and in fact staying active may even be more beneficial. In this case active means not lying in bed all day, but moving around and being mobile for periods in the day, while not doing enough to make the aggravation worse. There are some physicians who recommend specific exercises for sciatica pain, while others suggest that walking is enough.
The sciatica pain is sometimes enough for the sufferer to need to take time off from work, and as some of the treatments recommend cold compresses at regular intervals during the day, especially the first 48 hours, this is easier to achieve at home than in an office. Ibuprofen is recommended as an anti-inflammatory for sciatic pain, although in acute cases codeine may have to be used. For some cases, cortisone is injected into the space around the spinal column as this has been found to bring some relief. However, this is not a permanent cure, and does not address the cause of the problem.
If bone is pressing onto the sciatic nerve, then surgery can remove that pressure by removing that bone, but this is not a common procedure. However, if there has been no improvement in the level of sciatica pain after four to six weeks, then this may be considered.
Of course, if you think you have sciatica symptoms, visit your doctor for confirmation, and find out from an expert what you need to do to alleviate your sciatica symptoms.