What Is Sciatica?
Although typically occurring in older people, back pain is one of the most common ailments among Americans today. Whether it is dull, sharp or chronic, it can cause people to miss work and seek medical advice. Different from back pain, sciatica is pain that can stretch from the lower back all the way down to behind the thigh and knee.
It is difficult to determine one specific cause of sciatica. Primarily, it is caused by irritation of the largest nerve in your body: the sciatic nerve. There can be a number of different things that cause sciatica but the most common cause is a slipped disc. When a disc has moved out of place, the pressure presses directly on the nerve, causing the discomfort. Spine injury or infection, tumors and spondylolisthesis are other potential causes.
There are several risk factors that can be identified in relation to sciatica. Profession and daily habits can contribute to the condition. People who sit at a desk all day long with little active movement run the risk of developing back problems. Those who work in careers that require extreme heavy lifting are also at risk. Arthritis as well as age are both risk factors and for those over the age of 40, sciatica is often a result of the aging process.
Increased soreness and severe discomfort anywhere along the sciatic nerve are symptoms of sciatica. Most often, only one leg will feel the effects. Other symptoms include tingling sensations in the feet and toes and a feeling of numbness in the leg.
If you experience discomfort it is best to rest and take it easy. Light stretching and walking can help to reduce discomfort. Alternating between hot and cold compression packs can also bring comfort to affected areas.