Relief For Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Lower Back and Sciatica

It is estimated that more than half of American adults experience some type of musculoskeletal pain disorder.  In many instances pain associated with this condition can be tracked to the lower back or the presence of sciatica.  Although the effects of lower back and sciatica pain can be extreme, there are a number of methods that may help prevent it.  For those that are already experiencing debilitating lower back and sciatica pain, there is hope for managing and treating symptoms.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Lower back pain is generally felt in the area of, just above, or just under the waist.  This type of pain can be confined to one small area with some patients describing it as a tight knot in the muscle.  In other cases, patients may describe the pain as spanning the width of the waist.  Particularly with lower back pain, it is not unusual for the sensations of pain to travel as muscles surrounding the injured area work increasingly hard to protect it against further injury.

Symptoms of sciatica can vary in intensity and placement.  The pain is consistent in that it feels as though it is traveling from the lower back down into the buttocks and legs.  However, individuals may primarily feel pain in different areas of the nerve pathway and possibly on different sides of the body.  Depending on the severity of the condition as well as the individual’s pain tolerance, sciatica pain ranges from mild to severely debilitating.

WHAT IS SCIATICA?

Sciatica is a type of pain often described as pain originating in the lower back that usually radiates down into the leg.  In more scientific terms, the pain is actually traveling down from the back on the same path as the sciatic nerve.  This pathway extends from the lower back down through the buttocks and eventually the legs. Ironically, although the nerve path affects both legs, people generally attest to experiencing sciatica in only one leg or one side of the body.

HOW IS SCIATICA RELATED TO LOWER BACK PAIN?

Lower back pain typically pertains to the lumbar spine.  If the injury is simply a result of an injured muscle, the pain tends to stay in the general area of the lower back.  However, if the sciatic nerve which branches out from the lower spine is pinched or compromised from circumstances such as a herniated disc or a bone fragment on the vertebrae, the condition of sciatica can occur.

In most cases, sciatica will feel distinctly different from localized back pain.  It is more accurate to say that sciatica usually has the hallmarks of localized back pain plus additional pain that spreads into the lower portion of the body.  This pain will radiate down from the back and into the leg, an occurrence not that common when occurring from lower back pain alone.

Some Common Causes

Lower back pain can be felt suddenly after a basic and routine movement such as a twisting of the body or use of the back muscles instead of the knees to lift something quite heavy.  It can also be the result of an injury occurring from a traumatic incident such as a car accident or fall.

Sciatica could be the result of a lower back condition such as a herniated disk or bone spur on the vertebrae that pinches the sciatic nerve, sending pain in waves down the buttocks and leg.  In more serious and rarer cases, a tumor growth could be responsible for putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.  Some diseases such as diabetes have a relationship with sciatica in that diabetes can affect nerve health.

For both lower back and sciatic pain, there are several risk factors that can impact an individual’s susceptibility:

  • Spinal Alignment: Spinal misalignment can also be a contributing factor to lower back and sciatic pain.  The misalignment of the Atlas, the first vertebrae of the spine which is located just at the base of the skull, can raise an individual’s risk of further injury.
  • Age: The older an individual becomes, the less pliant their spinal discs become, which can raise the risk of experiencing a herniated or bulging disc.
  • Lifestyle: The lifestyle choices people make every day can also impact them being at risk for lower back or sciatic pain. A healthy and nutritious diet can go a long way toward keeping weight in check, which will eliminate pressure on the spine from unwanted pounds.  Regularly exercising also helps the body to move efficiently and keep muscles active.
  • Daily Activities: Most people tend to repeat bodily movements daily.  Particularly for those who are in an occupation that requires stressful activities for the spine such as lifting heavy boxes, twisting to put things on shelves or even sitting for hours at time, the risk of injury can go up dramatically.  Maintaining proper posture while sitting and standing can also protect the lower body against injury.

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