The sciatic nerve is the nerve that runs from your low back, down through your hips and buttocks, and into your legs. People who have a herniated disk, compressed spine, or bone spur may experience sciatica—the pain associated with the sciatic nerve.
The causes and symptoms of sciatica vary from person to person. The good news is, even patients who are experiencing severe levels of pain are dealing with an easily treatable condition.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Don’t mistake that pain in your hamstring as a pulled muscle. Sciatic pain is due to a pinched nerve and can radiate from any area in the lumbar region, but is most commonly felt on one side of the body and is localized to the back of the leg.
Sciatic pain has been described as a radiating or sudden shooting pain that flows down the back of the hamstring. Other patients suffering from sciatica feel a constant dull ache in their hips and thighs, or experience numbness and tingling.
Nearly all patients who feel the effects of sciatica notice that the pain is aggravated when they stand or sit for long periods of time.
Causes of Sciatica
When the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed, it begins to radiate pain. Is your sciatic in a pinch? Here are some possible reasons why:
- Herniated disk
- Compressed spine
- Bone spur
- Disease, such as diabetes
- Muscle tightness in the lumbar and gluteal region
- Major car accident or other injury, even injuries from years ago
Treatment for Sciatica
When the nerves in the spine are being compressed and causing pain, you can mask the pain with anti-inflammatory pain medications or you can treat the pain with physical therapy. Getting professional massages and taking care of the overall health of your body with a proper diet and regular physical activity will greatly reduce the effects of sciatica.
Natural remedies are also recommended for fighting sciatica. Try alternating ice packs and heating pads on your low back and buttocks. Or, take a hot bath with 1–2 cups Epsom salts. You can even try enhancing your cooking by adding herbs with natural anti-inflammatory agents.
One of the most effective ways to treat sciatica is with decompression therapy. By taking pressure off the disks in your spine, fluids and nutrients are able to flow back into the nucleus pulposis (jellylike area between the disks). When this happens, natural healing can begin, and with tension releasing, your sciatic nerve will relax and stop causing that throbbing pain you feel.