Sciatica is a medical term that relates to a relatively common condition or ailment which is generally characterized by either a minor or an excruciating pain radiating from the low back down the leg and can cause considerable trouble when trying to move around and walk.
From personal experience, the most important thing you can do, if or when you are suffering from sciatica is to get into bed and rest, but other treatments are available as well.
First off, the main cause of sciatica is a slipped disc, a ruptured disc or a herniated disk. The nerves in the lower limbs (legs) are affected and it is the pressure exerted on the nerves which cause the majority of the pain and discomfort. The pain can be minimal, but the pain can become almost unbearable. The onset of the pain can be gradual or the pain can hit you like a ton of bricks. This pain causes sharp, stabbing sensations that run up and own the leg and it come on suddenly or may develop gradually. This pain will become recurrent if the disks do not heal correctly.
In between each vertebrae, is a vertebral or spinal disc that separates the vertebrae and these discs are made up of tissue with a soft centre. The discs act as a shock absorber, allowing the vertebrae to be flexible so that people can bend, stretch and move. Sometimes, either from excessive back strain, injury or even age, the disc can become weakened and causing the soft centre to bulge and consequently excert pressure on the nerve to the leg and causing the pain associated with sciatica.
The first indication that you have a slipped disk is the presence of lower back pain and a pain that extends down the leg which may happen suddenly when bending or it may happen gradually during while working. As the disk presses and places pressure on the spinal nerves, it creates the sharp pain that is usually felt in the buttock and the back of the thigh. As the condition continues to worsen, even the slightest movement such as coughing, sneezing or even trying to stand, may bring on or intensify the pain. Sitting or standing for long periods can become very painful as the nerves become stretched and thereby intensify the irritation and pain.
When a a person with severe sciatica attempts to do even the most basic things like sitting, standing or walking, he/she may find it extremely difficult as any movement causes the pain to reappear or to become worse. More often than not, the only source of comfort or relief for the sufferer is to lay down in bed on his/her back and bend the knees, in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the nerves. The pain from Sciatica, caused by a slipped disc, will usually improve if bed rest is undertaken. You can also use crutches, so that you can keep yourself from placing your foot on the floor when trying to walk.
Many health care specialists will advise the patient that two weeks of continuous bed rest with the knees and hips flexed is required to help the disc begin to heal. It might take longer than 2 weeks, before you begin to experience any real relief. If this treatment does not help to reduce the pain, your physician may suggest surgery.
Besides bed rest, you probably will need to take something for pain. Painkillers may be prescribed though ordinary analgesics such as aspirin, Tylenol or Advil may be adequate. It is absolutely imperative to get as much rest as you can, giving the disc a chance to heal. Do not get up and give into the temptation to get up before the healing begins or you might find yourself starting all over.
If the patient has frequent episodes where the combination of bed rest and medications has not helped to improve the condition, then surgery is the last resort. Surgery may also be considered for those who cannot take lengthy periods of time off from work. However, not all disc problems can be surgically repaired. Only the doctor can decide, through the use of X-rays, MRI’s and any other tests, whether the particular condition is suitable for surgery and also the extent of