Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is Your Lower Back Pain Really Sciatica?

It’s common to feel lower back pain from time to time, especially if you work in a job that requires you to lift heavy things or sit at a desk for most of your day. In fact, as many as 90% of people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Luckily, it will often clear up on its own with rest, gentle exercise, and over-the-counter medication to manage your pain.

But while most lower back pain isn’t serious, it can sometimes be symptomatic of a bigger problem. About 5% of people will experience sciatica during their lifetime. This can indicate a number of underlying medical issues, and can be very painful.

To find out if your back pain is really sciatica, let’s take a look at its causes and symptoms, before exploring which treatment options might be right for you.

What is sciatica? 
Strictly speaking, sciatica is not a condition, but a collection of symptoms of a condition. Sciatica refers to pain, discomfort, weakness, tingling, and/or numbness that begins in the lower back and travels down one or both legs. It can be worse while you’re sitting, and you may find it painful and difficult to stand up and to walk.
This happens when the lumbar or sacral nerve roots of the sciatic nerve (the longest and largest single nerve in the body) become irritated or compressed. Since the sciatic nerve has branches that travel through the buttocks, thighs, knees, calves, and feet, the symptoms are not confined to your back. It’s common to experience symptoms down just one side of the body, although they can be felt bilaterally, and the pain will often feel worse when it’s cold.

What causes sciatica? 
While sciatica isn’t pleasant, it is a useful warning sign that something’s wrong with your back. Sciatica can be caused by conditions like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease. As you age, wear and tear can also lead to sciatica.
Sciatica can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, since the symptoms associated with it are similar to other forms of lower back pain. If your back pain becomes severe or debilitating, speak to your doctor to get to the root of the problem.

Finding the best treatment for sciatica
In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the underlying issue causing your sciatica. In other instances, you might be able to treat your symptoms with home remedies like applying heat or ice, and by taking pain-relieving medication. But if the problem persists, it can severely impact your quality of life.

At Stem Cell Therapy, we specialize in alternative, minimally-invasive treatments that have helped many patients with sciatica experience long-lasting relief from pain. If you have questions about sciatica, or to find out if we can help, contact us today.

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