The term “sciatica” refers to a group of uncomfortable symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve is irritated. The longest and thickest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve facilitates movement and sensation in the legs and feet. It originates in the low back and extends through the hips and down the back of each leg.
Given the size and significance of the sciatic nerve, it is probably not surprising that sciatica can have far-reaching effects on your lifestyle and well-being. It is also one of the most commonly treated spine conditions at Premier Bone & Joint Centers in Gillette, Wyoming.
What Does Sciatica Feel Like?
If your sciatic nerve is pinched—that is, compressed by a bone spur, herniated disc, or other tissue—you may experience pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling sensations that radiate downward from your lumbar spine. The symptoms can range from a mild, persistent ache to severe pain that interferes with daily activities and disrupts sleep. Usually, sciatica affects only one side of the body, but depending on the extent and location of the sciatic nerve compression, it may cause symptoms in both legs and feet.
Tried-and-True Sciatica Treatments
If you have sciatica pain, the spine specialists at Premier Bone & Joint Centers can help you find the best treatment approach for you, which may include:
Getting off your feet is a good idea if it alleviates your sciatica pain; however, resorting to extended bed rest can do more harm than good. Many people with sciatica find that they feel better after walking. Try strolling at a slower pace and with shorter strides than usual and be sure to maintain good posture. We can also recommend some gentle stretching exercises aimed at relieving your sciatic nerve compression. Another benefit of regular exercise is that it can help you lose weight, if necessary, which is important because excess pounds can add to the burden on your spine.
Applying Heat or Ice
If your sciatica pain is mild, apply a heating pad. The warmth can promote blood flow and relax your muscles. If your sciatica pain is severe, apply an ice pack instead. Cold therapy can reduce the inflammation that is causing your pain and numb the nerves that are carrying the pain signals to your brain.
To learn more about sciatica and how it can be treated, contact Premier Bone & Joint Centers today to schedule an appointment with a spine doctor at our satellite clinic in Gillette, WY.