The Sciatic Nerve:
The sciatic nerve (also called ischiadic nerve, ischiatic nerve) is the largest single nerve in the body. It begins in the lower back, runs down the back of each leg and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the sciatic nerve.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica (sigh-at-ih-kah) is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying medical condition and is referred as one or more of the following symptoms:
- Constant pain in the lower back, going down the leg from the back (rarely in both legs)
- The pain gets worse when the person sits
- A feeling of burning or tingling is felt down the leg
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- The person has difficulty standing up or walking.
Most Common Causes of Sciatica:
- Lumbar herniated disc: Sometimes referred to as a ruptured disc, slipped disc, protruding disc, bulging disc, or a pinched nerve.
- Degenerative disc disease: This condition occurs when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that spinal level, and inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the area.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: when one vertebral body slips forward on the one below it because of a small fracture in a piece of bone that connects the two joints on the back side of the spinal segment.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: Characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Piriformis syndrome: When the piriformis muscle pinches a nerve root of the sciatic nerve.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Caused by irritation of the sacroiliac joint.
- Pregnancy: Weight gain, a shift in the person’s center of gravity, and hormonal changes as a result of a pregnancy, can cause sciatica.
- Scar tissue: This occurs when a scar tissue compresses the nerve root.
- Muscle strain: When an inflammation from a muscle strain puts pressure on a nerve root.
- Spinal tumor: Tumors in the lower back can pinch the nerve root.
Possible Treatment Options:
Bed rest is recommended by most doctors. Another ways to treat sciatica is by using medications to relieve pain and inflammation (including injectable and oral cortisone) and relax muscles, physical therapy and massage. Conditioning the lower back with stretching exercises will help alleviate the symptoms of sciatica. Sometimes, the only treatment for persisting sciatica, which is caused by nerve compression at the lower spine, can be with surgical procedures.
This following instructional video provides simple yoga stretches that will help you get relief from Sciatica and lower back pain: