The sciatic nerve is the dominant nerves in the body and it travels from the lower back to the hips, buttocks, and down to the legs. The sciatic nerve has a direct effect on how you feel and control your legs.
Sciatica simply occurs when there is irritation to the sciatic nerves. This leads either moderate or excruciating pain in the lower back region, hips, and buttocks and even down to the legs.
Sciatic nerve pain is experienced in almost the part of the body the nerves extend to. You may feel very weak and numb in these areas. Therefore, sciatica is the pain (symptoms) you feel when there is a problem with your sciatic nerve.
How to know if you have sciatica
According to research done, it is believed that 40% of people will experience sciatica at one point in their lives; therefore, it is vital to have the best idea about the symptoms of sciatica.
The major symptom of sciatica is the pain that arises in your lower back region to the hips and down to the lower limb. However, there are some other signs or symptoms of sciatica which includes:
- Pain around your ankles, toes, and entire feet
- Inability to effectively move your legs or work properly
- More pain when you try to move
- Numbness and weakness of the leg.
- Inability to adequately control your bowel and bladder
Causes of Sciatica (Sciatic Nerve Pain)
There are some medical conditions that ultimately result in sciatica by irritating the sciatic nerves:
A herniated disk is a degenerative disease, it occurs when the cartilages separating the spinal bones (vertebrae) wear off. When the cartilage wears off, the substance inside can compress the sciatic nerve, thereby leading to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. This condition is more common to seniors and someone involved in a serious accident leading to back injury. See our article on the best back brace for herniated disc and the best back brace for degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Stenosis
This is the degeneration or wears down of disc between the vertebrae of the spine. This wear leads to narrower of the nerves passageway, a condition also referred to as spinal stenosis. When the nerve passageway becomes narrower, it can pinch the sciatic nerve root, leading to irritation of the sciatic nerves and sciatica.
Accident or Injury to the Back Region
Accidents can also lead to situations where one or more back components are tampered with. Severe accidents to the lower back region can have an effect on sciatic nerves and ultimately lead to sciatica.
Bad posture can also result in sciatica. Some folks have a curved spine due to accident, improper sitting position over time leading to improper alignment of their spine, while some were born with sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis). All these can irritate the sciatic nerve and lead to sciatica.
Physical Therapies for Sciatica
The source of sciatica is at the lower back but the pain can be felt across regions where sciatic nerve extends. Surgery may not be the only option in treating sciatica, there are some physical therapies that can be a good help in managing sciatica:
Exercise is one of the best treatments to relieve sciatic nerve pain. It is a proven fact that exercises help you get fit by strengthening tissues in the lower back region, pelvis, and abdomen.
Stretch exercise is one of the best for sciatica and it is essential to do it correctly for better results. Read more about stretches for sciatica pain relief here and you should also have a good talk with your fitness trainer/physiotherapy for guidance.
Inversion therapy will likely be recommended by a Chiropractor. It is essential you visit a licensed Chiropractor which might recommend inversion therapy. This therapy can be done with different equipment and choosing the one you are most convenient with is vital.
Equipment for inversion therapy includes:
- Inversion table: This is a swiveling table that helps the user to hand upside down. The person restfully on his/her back, his legs are perfectly fixed and the table gently swivels, giving a very easy and safe inversion. Read more from our article on the best inversion table for sciatica and the best inversion table for back and neck pain.
- Inversion Chair: with an inversion chair, the user conveniently sits and straps him/her in the chair before inversion. Unlike the inversion table, this will not put any pressure on the legs. Select this product; it’s a good inversion chair you can consider.
- Gravity boot: these are ankle boots that allows the user to hand upside down through their feet. Select the best gravity boot here
Orthopedic Back Brace
Most sciatica results from improper alignment of back components which an orthopedic back brace can be beneficial. Improper alignment can stem from carrying heavy things, being born with it like the case of scoliosis and it can also be from accident or improper sitting position.
Getting the best back brace is vital to keeping your back from turning and twisting that could hurt you. It can also help to correct bad posture.
Posture and Lifestyle Modification
To get rid of sciatica completely, you might need to modify your lifestyle, especially the ones that put you at risk of having such incessant lower back pain. You might want to check your sitting position, especially for those who work for a long time sitting in front of a computer. Whatever your kind of lifestyle that might put the lower back at risk needs to be modified.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Heating and cooling is very effective when it comes to pain reduction. Cold treatment will help reduce inflammation and decrease blood flow. It is mostly suitable within 24 hours of sustaining an injury. However, heat therapy promotes blood flow and helps the muscles to relax better. It is mostly used for chronic pain.
This is vital and that is why most inversion table also comes with heating and massage pad. Deep tissue massage to the lower back, hips and buttocks can target the spinal muscles that are compressing the sciatic nerves. The pressure directed through massage helps to release tension in the muscle and ultimately ease sciatica.
The effect of physical therapy cannot be over-emphasized. However, it is important to engage the best and that comes from visiting a professional physiotherapist to correctly guide you on the most suitable one for you as an individual.
Inversion therapy is not safe for some set of people like hypertensive patients and folks with eyes defect. Therefore, selecting what is safe for you is the primary thing to consider before engaging in any physical therapy.