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5 Most Common Symptoms of Sciatica

The body’s largest nerve is the sciatic nerve. This nerve begins at the lower back, travels down the hips and buttocks, and then branches all the way down each leg. This nerve isn’t just large – it is also vital for how the body functions. The sciatic nerve assists the movement of the leg and foot muscles, as well as providing lower body sensation functions. Due to the importance of the sciatic nerve, people want to avoid experiencing what is known as sciatica. This condition is often a painful one, and it can lead to people feeling debilitated as a result. Yet due to the size of the sciatic nerve, there is more potential for it to be impacted in some way. For people that are unsure if they are dealing with sciatica or not, there are symptoms that can suggest their sciatic nerve is affected in some way. Here are the 5 most common symptoms of sciatica: Symptom #1: Legs or buttocks pain which grows when sitting It is easy to think sciatica affects only the back. But as the sciatic nerve travels all the way to the bottom of your legs, it means that it can cause pain across your lower body. This includes your buttocks and legs. Do your legs or buttocks suffer from any kind of pain when you sit down? If so, this might be a suggestion that your sciatic nerve has been impacted in some way. The reason is because when you sit down, the sciatic nerve receives pressure naturally. Normally, this pressure won’t be enough to exert any pain. However, if the nerve has been inflamed, compressed, or irritated, there is the potential it will increase those pressure levels. As well as being painful upon sitting down, the pain can continue to increase through your legs or buttocks until you stand up. Symptom #2: A burning or tingling sensation in your leg Another symptom that could indicate sciatica is a burning or tingling sensation in one of your legs. You may think this is something that would be more commonly experienced in both legs, but sciatica will often only impact one side of the body. There are cases, however, where the person can suffer from a burning or tingling sensation across both legs simultaneously. Along with your legs, the burning or tingling could be experienced in your buttocks – either separately or at the same time. This sensation can happen whether you are sat down, walking, or doing any other activity. Symptom #3: Continual buttock or hip pain Some sciatica can be relatively mild and will go away over time. In other cases, the pain in the sciatic nerve can stick around and be unrelenting. It might not necessarily be a sharp or unbearable pain – like a toothache, it can be a dull and aching discomfort which doesn’t go away. Not only can this pain be irritating, but there’s also chance it will have a negative impact on your mental health. The pain could find its way centralized in your hip or buttock area. This is due to the sciatic nerve passing through these areas. The pain, if it is continual, might also stick around while you’re doing most movements, whether that is standing around or sitting. Symptom #4: Weak or numb leg As mentioned already, it is possible for your leg – or legs – to suffer from a burning or tingling sensation. Impact on the sciatic nerve can also manifest itself in a different way, where the leg is affected by weakness or numbness. Lost sensation in your leg is not something that is difficult to identify. It could cause you to struggle with walking or just standing. This is certainly the case if both legs are affected at the same time, although again this is a rare situation. It might not only be a leg that is weak or numb due to a compromised sciatic nerve. There is the possibility it will also result in your foot losing sensation, whether this is in combination with your leg or is a separate case. Symptom #5: Lower back pain It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or specific. It could be something as simple as pain in the lower back that suggests you are dealing with sciatica. Of course, this shouldn’t necessarily be the first thought you turn to once lower back pain is experienced. The pain might go away after a couple of days for instance. However, there are situations where back pain can suggest your sciatic nerve is compromised. One situation is if you have severe, acute lower back pain that happens occasionally. Another example is if the lower back pain is dull, aching, and not necessarily that painful in general, but it exists for long periods of time. What causes sciatica? When the sciatic nerve is impacted, this is when it is being pressed or rubbed in some way. There are numerous ways this can happen. Here are the common causes of sciatica: Slipped disk: Also known as a herniated disk, this is the most widespread cause of sciatica. This occurs when soft tissue, which is there to cushion the bones in the spine, slips out. The further this tissue protrudes, the more it can irritate nerves nearby. Bone spurs: Also known as bone overgrowth, bone spurs can form on the spine. When these spurs increase in size, they can place unwanted pressure on the sciatic nerve. Spondylolisthesis: Rather than tissue being pushed out (like with a slipped disk), this condition sees one of the spine’s bones moving out of position. Spinal stenosis: This condition leads to the spine narrowing in the area nerves pass through. If it becomes too narrow, this can place pressure on the sciatic nerve. Back trauma: A back injury that causes trauma could naturally lead to sciatica. This is the case if the spinal cord is damaged in some way. Sciatica risk factors There are various risk factors that increase the chances of someone developing sciatica. These factors for sciatica include: Occupation and hobbies: If someone’s work requires them to twist, bend, or place added pressure to their back, this could cause the development of sciatica. Occupations that can have an effect in that regard include everything from truck drivers to construction workers. Similarly, certain hobbies – such as playing golf and even watching TV – can contribute to pain on the sciatic nerve. Age: As people become older, this naturally causes detrimental changes to the body. Issues like bone spurs and slipped disks become more likely. As a result, it is more common for older individuals to deal with sciatica than those at a younger age. Obesity: Obesity is known to place extra pressure on vital organs. This extra weight is also capable of adding extra stress to the spine. Someone that is overweight increases their chances of dealing with sciatica and other back-related issues. Diabetes: Due to how changes blood sugar usage in the body, this condition enhances the possibility of never damage – such as sciatica. Minimal activity: Active people are less likely to suffer from sciatica. If people sit down for long periods of time and don’t move around much, this can ramp up the possibility of sciatica developing.  Dealing with sciatica It is possible to fully recover from sciatica. There are also situations where sciatica cannot be fully prevented. Regardless of the situation, there are steps you can take to protect your back and minimize the pain caused by sciatica. Regular exercise is always a strong recommendation in general. But it is also beneficial for the strength of your back and either reducing or eliminating the pain of sciatica. By improving those lower back and abdomen muscles, this helps with enhancing back alignment and good posture. Speaking of posture, the way you sit will also play a role in either preventing sciatica or supporting its development. The right sitting style – along with the right seat – can go a long way to lowering the impact of sciatica. A seat that has strong lower back support will help, as can using a pillow in the small of your back, helping to keep a normal spinal curve. Sitting with your hips and knees level will also assist. What if the sciatica won’t go away? What if the pain is so severe that is impacting both your physical ability and mental health? In this case, you might need to undergo surgery to try and correct the problem. However, there is a less invasive and potentially more effective option than surgery: stem cell treatment. Stem cell research has shown this treatment can potentially reduce inflammation levels around the affected area. By reducing this inflammation, it could place significantly less pressure on the sciatic nerve. Due to their noted regenerative capabilities, stem cell researchers are continuing to push forwards with new, exciting developments in the medical world. The hope is that they will be able to assist with fully repairing and restoring the function of the sciatic nerve.  

How Long Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Last?

Any kind of pain can be debilitating and affect your quality of life, but nerve pain can be particularly nasty. It is often felt as a shooting, burning, or stabbing pain and can significantly range in severity; some people might experience only mild, infrequent nerve pain, whereas others find it more excruciating. Certain types of nerve pain, such as sciatic pain, can affect your movements and your ability to complete routine daily tasks. When faced with this type of pain, there is only one question on the sufferer’s mind: how long does sciatic nerve pain last? Sciatic Nerve Pain: What it is and How Long it Lasts The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and down the legs. Sciatic nerve pain occurs when pressure pushes down on this nerve or something pinches it. It affects between 10% to 40% of people at least once in their lifetime, so it’s essential to be aware of it. Acute sciatic nerve pain usually only lasts a couple of weeks. However, during these couple of weeks, the patient may experience extreme nerve pain in their lower back and legs. Chronic sciatic nerve pain, on the other hand, lasts a lifetime. Generally, the pain is not quite as severe as acute sciatica, but it can still be debilitating and get in the way of a high quality of life. While chronic sciatic nerve pain lasts forever, there are many ways to manage it, including certain medications and exercises. Plus, the pain might come in cycles; a person might experience long periods with a lot of pain, followed by months with barely any. The Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain Lower back pain that spreads down the legs Numbness around the buttocks and legs Feelings of pins and needles in the legs Difficulty moving Incontinence (loss of bladder or bowel control) If you think you have sciatic nerve pain, perhaps due to ticking off some of the symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. At the doctor’s office, they will likely perform a physical exam, including walking tests, the leg raise test, and stretches. They might also recommend imaging tests for further confirmation, which might involve getting an x-ray or MRI. Doctors also commonly use electromyography to determine the cause of the pain. It’s important to note that sciatic nerve pain generally only occurs in one side of the body at a time (such as your right buttock and leg). However, there are rare cases when a person experiences pain on both sides. In this case, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Sciatica Pain: Causes and Risk Factors You now know sciatica pain happens when something puts pressure on the nerve. What causes that, though, and are there any risk factors? Here are the most common causes of sciatica pain: Herniated Disk A herniated disk – also known as a slipped disk – is one of the most common causes of sciatic nerve pain. It happens when the tissue between the spine moves out of place, putting pressure on the nerve. It requires medical treatment. Some severe cases require surgery, but that’s not always necessary. Degenerative Disk Disease Degenerative disk disease is a disease that occurs when the disks wear down over time. That leads to spinal stenosis, which pinches the sciatica nerve, which, in turn, causes pain in the sciatica. Spondylolisthesis Spondylolisthesis happens when one of the vertebrae slips and pinches the nerves. Treatment often involves painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. Injury Another cause of sciatic nerve pain is an injury to the spine or the sciatic nerve itself. Falling or unsafe lifting are two common injuries that result in this, but plenty of injuries can lead to sciatic pain. Of course, there are plenty of other causes of sciatic nerve pain, some rarer than others. For example, a tumor can cause it, but the chances of that are small compared to many other explanations. Certain people are more at risk of getting sciatic nerve pain than others. Those who fit into any of the following categories should be more cautious when partaking in physical activities – particularly ones that involve straining. Here are the risk factors: Being Overweight Being overweight can put more pressure on your spine, leading to a higher chance of developing sciatic nerve pain. Plus, you are more likely to strain when you are overweight, causing back issues in general and potentially putting pressure on the nerve. Extreme Sports Partaking in extreme sports is another risk factor. If a person gets injured during a sport, there’s a chance they could put pressure on the nerve, causing either acute or chronic sciatic pain. So, if you often do sports, it’s important to wear the appropriate safety gear and do the warm-ups beforehand. Heavy Lifting People who lift heavy items for a living are also more at risk of sciatic pain, as one wrong lift can pinch the nerve. That’s why it’s important always to use the correct form when lifting anything, whether weights or heavy boxes. Smoking Smoking causes weaker bones over time, damaging the spinal tissue, potentially leading to pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pregnancy Many pregnant women experience sciatic pain (along with general back pain). This is because many changes happen within a woman’s body at this time, and there’s more chance of a slipped disc resulting in pinching of the sciatic nerve. Treatment Options for Sciatic Nerve Pain Fortunately, you don’t have to simply live with sciatic nerve pain, as there are many options for treatment. The treatment you receive depends on the type of pain you have (acute or chronic) and the severity. Some people are fine treating it at home with gentle stretches and over-the-counter pain medication, whereas others need more intensive treatments, with some even requiring surgery. Medication Doctors often prescribe muscle relaxants as a treatment for sciatica, as they reduce muscle spasms and relieve sciatic pain. They might also prescribe anti-inflammatory and antiseizure drugs in some cases. Physical Therapy Specific exercises can help reduce the pressure on the nerve. That’s why many people suffering from sciatic pain – especially chronic sciatica – often see a physical therapist. The exercises might include walking, swimming, stretching, and yoga. Steroid Injections One standard treatment option is steroid injections. In many cases, the steroid injection corticosteroid gets injected into the spine and acts as an anti-inflammatory, providing pain relief that can last up to three months. Surgery In severe cases, spinal surgery may be required. This is only an option if no other treatment options work and the case is severe and ongoing. Spinal surgery (such as laminectomy or microdiscectomy) involves physically relieving the pressure on the nerves. Unfortunately, surgery means a long recovery period and certain risks, such as bleeding and blood clots. However, sometimes it’s necessary, especially if sciatica causes significant harm to a person’s quality of life. Stem Cell Therapy for Sciatica Nerve Pain Fortunately, there is an alternative to surgery that might produce results that are just as beneficial without the long recovery time – stem cell therapy. It is an effective, non-surgical treatment that helps new cells form, relieving the pressure on the nerve. It involves a simple injection into the targeted area, where the stem cells start to repair. Many people suffering from sciatic nerve pain find massive relief after this treatment. Plus, stem cell research is only getting more sophisticated by the day, leading to better outcomes every year. When to See Your Doctor Do you have sciatic nerve pain? Many cases can be treated at home with rest, gentle stretches, and painkillers. However, see your doctor if: The pain doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks The pain is unbearable You can’t do your usual daily activities When you see a doctor, they will assess your case and devise an appropriate treatment plan. Some cases require more emergency treatment. If you experience any of the following, seek medical attention immediately: Sciatic nerve pain on both sides Severe numbness Loss of bowel or bladder control Preventing Sciatic Pain Once you’ve experienced sciatica, you won’t want it again. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your chances of getting it again in the future. Exercising regularly, maintaining correct posture, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight will all do their part in minimizing your risk. If you are a heavy lifter, you must learn the safest technique and apply it every time. In Summary Sciatic nerve pain can last anywhere from a couple of ways to an entire lifetime – it depends on whether it’s acute or chronic sciatica. It’s important to see a doctor to determine your case. Remember, you don’t have to live with the pain, as there are plenty of excellent treatment options to make living with sciatica more manageable. Plus, research only improves as time goes on, making treatment options like stem cell therapy even more sophisticated.

What is the best treatment for sciatica? Success from Stem Cells

Nerves are key to the function of the nervous system. Without nerves, the brain would not be able to properly communicate with the rest of the body. The entire nervous system consists of more than 100 billion nerve cells (neurons), which all play a role in the nervous system. Damaging critical nerves in the spinal cord can have drastic effects on a patient’s quality of life.  One of the most important nerves in the human body is the sciatic nerve. 

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