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Sciatica pain: what is it and how to cure it

Sciatica is a painful nerve condition. In medicalt erms it is known as sciatic neuritis or lumbar radiculopathy. It is not a disease as such but rather a set of symptoms affecting the areas of the body supplied by a spinal nerve. It can be caused by some sort of compression or irritation at the base of one of the spinal nerves, resulting in pain that can rage from mild to very painful. It can last for days, or even for months, in which case it is considered chronic.

Symptoms and treatment

More precisely, sciatica pain may be caused by compression or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots from which sciatic nerves originate. Or a compression along either one or both the sciatic nerves. Carachterized by a shooting pain, it starts in the back but does not affect it as such.The pain rather radiates from the lower back, down the buttocks and into the legs, either one or both, sometimes reaching down to the calf. It can cause numbness of certain areas of legs and feet, as well as tingling, muscle weakness, loss of tendon reflex. The pain can be made worse by certain movements, like bending backwars, standing or sitting for long periods, or even sneezing, coughing or laughing. Generally, the kind of compression or irritation that causes sciatica pain would be caused by a slipped disc. Other causes may be Lumbarspinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a vertebra slips forward. Further more, the symptoms can also be brought on by pregnancy.

Painkillers like paracetamol work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins in the body, thus making the body less aware of the pain. They can help very well to cope with sciatica pain, but they will not heal the causes. Exercise and physiotherapy, on the other hand, can act at the root of the problem and start an healing process. It is advisable not to stay in bed for too long, but rather exercise gently by walking and stretching. Also, compression packs, both cold and hot, can offer relief from sciatica pain. Alternative therapies like acupuncture and shiatsu can also help. Acupuncture can provide some pain relief, while shiatsu massage can help mobilise the areas where the nerves are being trapped, thus relieving the pressure and alleviating the symptoms.

How to avoid the worst

Cases of persistent sciatica are normally treated with a combination of stronger painkillers and antidepressant, if they don't work anymore, even with epidural steroid injections. In extreme cases, or if the cause has been identified, a surgery may be possible. In any case, doctors nowadays are stressing on excercise and physiotherapy, also as ways to prevent sciatica pain. An healthy balance of gentle exercise and alternative treatment like shiatsu can work for most people affected by this painful nerve condition.

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