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Back Pain Is No Fun: Sciatica 101

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Back pain is one of the most difficult things to deal with. When your back hurts, every time you move, you feel pain. If you also feel pain in your leg, you may be experience sciatica. Here's what you need to know about this painful chronic condition.

What Is Sciatica?

There is no larger nerve in the human body than the sciatic nerve. It is as big around as a nickel! The nerve starts in the lower back and passes through the triangle pelvic region between the hips, and then runs down through the buttocks, the thighs, and the knees, where it then branches out into smaller nerves heading to your feet.

The human body's nerve network is the highway that sends pain and pleasure signals to the brain, letting you know something is feels good…or feels bad. If the sciatic nerve become inflamed or compressed, your body will quickly let you know something is wrong.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica can caused by spinal issues, such as degenerative disk disease and other issues that related to the composition of the spine. But it can also be caused by things such as pregnancy, being overweight, wearing high heel shoes, sleeping on an unsupportive mattress, and twisting or turning the wrong way. Sciatica is more apt to happen in people who don't exercise regularly and lead sedentary lifestyles, which causes the muscles in the back to become loose and weak. This in turn allows the sciatic nerve to become compressed or inflamed.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica?

In addition to back pain, many sciatica sufferers feel intense pain running down their buttock and into their leg. It's also not uncommon to experience leg weakness and difficulty controlling your foot, which can be scary for those experiencing sciatica for the first time. The pain may be constant, or it may be a shooting pain that only occurs when you attempt to move. For some the pain is worse when sitting, but for others, trying to stand can be just as painful as moving the thighs and hips laterally can exacerbate the nerve even more. While there is a sciatic nerve on each side, usually only one side of the body is affected.

How Is Sciatica Treated?

Unfortunately, sciatic doesn't have a cure per se. Instead, strengthening exercises, lifestyle changes, the use of NSAIDS, and time and movement to work out essentially a pinched nerve, even though moving is painful, are the current treatment recommendations if there aren't underlying spinal issues. Massage therapy may also be helpful. Be sure to consult a back pain specialist to ensure there isn't more going on and to receive proper exercise instructions.