Many people who complain about lower back pain that travels down the legs suffer from a condition called sciatica pain. Sciatica pain can interfere with simple daily activities like walking, standing and sleeping. Therefore, a better understanding about the condition is needed.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition resulting in back pain due to irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body running from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. Compression of the sciatic nerve can cause pain that radiates out from your lower back and travels down your leg to your calf. Sciatic pain can range from being mild to very painful.
What are the common symptoms of the condition?
Sciatica is different from general back pain. Sciatica pain hardly affects the entire back. It radiates from the lower back, down to the buttocks and into one or both of the legs, right down to the calf. Some patients even complain about shooting pain while sneezing, coughing or laughing, standing or sitting for a long period of time. Patients who have long period of numbness in their bottom, lower back and leg or those who experience loss of bladder or bowel control and often feel weakness in their leg and foot must visit a doctor immediately.
Who is most likely to suffer from this condition?
Sedentary lifestyle is one of the major reasons people suffer from sciatica pain. People who have to perform work involving frequent bending and twisting, lifting heavy weights are more likely to suffer from the condition. Being overweight is also a risk factor. It can put extra strain and pressure on your back, leading to sciatica.
What are the complications if the condition is left untreated?
Complications of sciatica could lead to partial immobility of the leg and partial or complete loss of feeling (sensation) in the effected leg. It could lead to severe functional disabilities like limitation in sitting, standing, walking and sleeping.
If a person is susceptible to suffer from the condition, what precautions should they take?
Although it is not always possible to prevent sciatica, there are several things you can do to prevent a slipped disc or other back injuries that could lead to sciatica. Here are some general precautions that you should take:
- Maintain a better posture at work.
- Avoid sustained periods of sitting.
- Be careful while lifting anything.
- Maintain correct posture while lifting.
- Always stretch before and after exercise.
- Exercise regularly to improve your strength and flexibility.