What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a common lower back pain that affects the sciatic nerve and progresses down through the thighs to the legs. In sciatica, one side of the lower body is affected. It causes pain, numbness and weakness in the lower back extending to the legs and feet.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Symptoms mainly include pain that starts from lower back, buttocks and travels all the way down to the feet. It generally affects one leg at a time. The pain in the leg is worse than that in the back. Numbness and tingling sensation can also occur in the legs and feet.
Some common symptoms of sciatica are as follows:
- Constant lower back pain that also leads to buttock pain and leg pain.
- Hip pain
- Numbness and tingling sensation in legs and feet
- Weakness in limbs
- Severe pain when sitting or trying to stand up
Some people might experience constant and severe pain while others can experience infrequent pain. Some might experience less pain while others might experience severe pain. Thus, the sciatica pain varies from one individual to another. Sometimes it can get worse and can improve with time.
What are the Types of Sciatica Pain?
The sciatica pain may be mild or severe and thus is divided into two types:
- Acute Sciatica Pain: This is a sudden pain that comes quickly and goes off in a week or so. This pain does not need a medical help.
- Chronic Sciatica Pain: Chronic pain can persist for more than 3 months. This may be a result of nerve damage, arthritis, or other pain. People with chronic pain need medical assistance.
What are the Causes of Sciatica Pain?
Sciatica pain is usually caused when by any means the sciatica nerve is compressed or irritated.
The reason for this can be any of the medical conditions listed below:
- Herniated disc
- Piriformis syndrome
- Muscle spasm
It has been reported that about 90% of people suffering with sciatica pain had herniated disc with nerve root compression.
There are other strange reasons too for having sciatica pain.
Some of these are as follows:
- Wearing high heels
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Sleeping on too soft mattress
- Prolonged sitting
Age can also be a factor for sciatica pain. People at 45- 64 years of age are at high risk of sciatica pain. Smoking, mental stress, continuous driving and strenuous physical activities can also cause sciatica pain.
How is Obesity Related to Sciatica Pain?
Sciatica pain related to obesity or overweight is called obesity sciatica. More than 65% of the American adults are overweight. Obesity can be a reason for sciatica pain (leg pain).
Carrying extra weight leads to other problems. It also leads to shortness in breath and fatigue. Obesity is the main reason behind any spinal discomfort or disorders.
Being overweight puts extra pounds on the back that presses the spine. Spine provides support to the body but extra weight might strain the spinal column. The spinal column becomes stressed and uneven.
Many researches have confirmed that obesity is related to sciatica pain. According to the American Obesity Association, back pain is common in one-third of American who were obese.
It also reported that obese people find it difficult in doing daily activities. Women who are obese or have large waist size are at risk for lower back pain. This was also reported by the American Obesity Association.
It is difficult to treat obesity sciatica because the extra weight puts too much pressure on the spine.
How to Lose Weight for Sciatica Pain Relief?
It is very important to lose weight to reduce sciatica pain. Physically fit people experience comparatively very less pain in leg joints and lower back. Reducing weight, reduces the extra pressure on the spinal column and relieves the nerves.
The pain management and therapy in case of obesity sciatica is mainly concerned with weight loss of patient, pain control, swelling reduction, etc.
Physical therapies strengthen the muscles, makes the body fit, improves blood circulation, etc. for the beginners water therapy and walking can be helpful without straining the muscles too much.
Too tiring exercises are not recommended to the people with chronic pain. There are physical therapies that can reduce extra weight and some of these are as follows:
- Aerobic Exercise: This exercise includes running and walking. It helps in losing weight. It also improves blood circulation and rate of metabolism. Those who have severe leg pain cannot get relief with running. Running might increase sciatic pain. Swimming and water running can be helpful for them. Seated aerobic exercises such as stationary bicycles can also be beneficial. Walking is helpful for all.
- Stretching: This improves flexibility of muscles. It also stretches lower back and relaxes muscles. Stretching all muscles several times a week is recommended by the Arthritis Foundation.
- Strengthening Exercises: These exercises relieve lower back pain by strengthening the muscles that stabilize spinal column. Exercises related to leg such as leg press, leg extension, etc strengthen leg muscles, relaxes and reduce pain.
All these three have proved beneficial in treating sciatica pain. Yoga also helps in improving metabolic rate, blood circulation and the overall well-being of an individual.
Massage can also help in relaxing muscles and reducing pain. It actually relaxes both nerves and ligament. Deep and firm massage can also soothe cramped muscles.
Changing to a healthy lifestyle can cure most of the human problems related to pain. Proper physical activities and eating clean can keep the body weight in control and obesity sciatica can be minimized.
Exercise helps to maintain the body weight and is preferred over bed rest for sciatica pain. Physical activities keep the spinal discs and the spinal column in shape.
If spinal column is not disturbed, the sciatic nerves are relaxed, there will be no leg pain.