Sciatica is a feeling of pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs. Even though you feel the symptoms in your legs, the underlying cause of the disease is pinching or irritation of the sciatic nerve, the nerve that connects your legs to your brain.
What Causes Sciatica
Misaligned or displaced vertebrae in the neck or back are the most common causes sciatica. This is usually the result of an acute injury to the back or neck. Whiplash from a car accident is the most common culprit, but sciatica can also follow sports-related injuries or even a night sleeping on an uncomfortable surface. When displaced, vertebrae apply uncomfortable pressure to the sciatic nerve, causing pain and tingling in the legs.
Pregnancy can also cause the disease, according to Medicine Net. The rapid change in weigh distribution associated with pregnancy applies unusual pressure to the spine, irritating nerve channels.
It may take a few days after an injury for symptoms of sciatica to emerge. The condition usually only affects one leg, and it may be more painful when sitting or lying down than it is when standing up.
According the Mayo Clinic, the amount of pain can vary widely from case to case. Some patients report mild aching, while others report a constant, excruciating burning sensation. In extreme causes, sciatica is associated with the inability to control the bowels
Several good treatment options are available to patients suffering from sciatica. In mild cases, rest and relaxation may be enough to abate the pain. In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend several treatments.
- Muscle Relaxants: Following a traumatic event like a car accident, muscles in the back and neck spasm and contract, pressuring the sciatic nerve. In these cases, a quick round of prescription muscle relaxants can relieve the pressure and facilitate a full recovery.
- Massage and Acupuncture: These treatments work like natural muscle relaxants, allowing doctors to keep the prescription drugs behind the counter. Studies of massage and acupuncture to relieve sciatica have generated mixed results, but the treatments are effective for some people.
- Chiropractic Care: In cases where sciatica results from displaced vertebrae, chiropractic treatments can relieve pressure on the nerve. The chiropractor applies pressure to the spine at specific points, allowing misaligned vertebrae to slide back into place.
Sciatica is a painful and potentially dangerous condition, but it is possible to make a full and rapid recovery with the right medical care. If you are experiencing pain and numbness in your legs, contact your healthcare professional today.