Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, which originates from the lower pelvic region and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb. Many a time, it has been found that the discs that protect the spinal cord may protrude from its original position and exert pressure on the sciatic nerve. Due to this pressure, the person experiences some pain on the lower back or the thighs, and this condition is commonly called sciatica. It is actually a symptom that is caused due to a disorder in the lumbar spine. Usually, damage to the sciatic nerve is caused due to a sudden injury to the spinal cord. Moreover, it may also be caused due to the continuous wear and tear of the lower spine.
➜ The most common symptom is infrequent and irritating back pain, which may get worse over time. If the nerve is severely damaged, the back pain may be severe and debilitating. In very rare circumstances does the sciatic nerve get permanently damaged.
➜ Moreover, if your sciatic nerve is damaged, your legs may become weak, and in some cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction may occur. Additionally, you may experience a sensation of numbness and tingling, which starts in the lower portion of the back and extends to the back of the leg through the buttocks.
➜ If you experience any of these symptoms along with pain in the back, you may need to undergo a surgery. Most of the sciatica symptoms are a result of the inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and as such, it's necessary to take certain measures to reduce such an inflammation.
➜ The other symptoms include pain in one part of the leg which worsens when you sit and sharp pain while standing or walking.
➜ There are basically 2 treatment options for a sciatic nerve damage: non-surgical and surgical. Most people recover from this condition without a surgery, but in severe cases, surgery may be required.
➜ Non-surgical sciatica treatment at home includes bed rest and physiotherapy, use of heat or ice packs, and applying over-the-counter medications. The patient is advised adequate rest so that the back does not get strained.
➜ Applying heat or ice packs may also help in reducing the inflammation thereby alleviating the pain. You need to apply an ice or heat pack for at least half an hour everyday, and continue the process every 2 to 3 hours.
➜ Other than ice and heat packs, there are several over-the-counter medications available, which you can use for sciatica pain relief. Several anti-inflammatory ointments, besides oral steroids, can also be used.
➜ In case of severe pain, a patient may be given epidural steroid injection so that the swelling gets reduced. Usually, such injections are given to provide temporary relief from the pain. On the other hand, patients may also try some sciatica pain relieving exercises for long-lasting relief from pain.
➜ If all these treatment options don't work, a surgery may be required. Surgery is done to repair the dislocated disc that is responsible for a compressed sciatic nerve.
The recovery period depends on the severity of the condition. Usually, recovery time ranges between 2 to 4 weeks but only if you rest completely. In case surgery is required, it may take about a month or two for complete recovery. Many a time, it has been found that people don't like to rest all the time and so move around and that's when the condition may aggravate.
If you suffer from sciatica, it's always better to take adequate rest to get relief from the pain. Once the pain subsides, follow a regular exercise regimen in consultation with your doctor.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.