The Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, and is about the diameter of your little finger. The nerve runs from the base of your spine, through the buttock into the back of your leg, to the side of the calf muscle, through your ankle into the top of your foot and ends at your big toe.
Sciatica pain usually starts in the lower back, but you will experience most of the pain in your legs and buttocks, in the hip, and anywhere along the path of the nerve.
The pain is usually on one side, but it is possible to have pain on both sides (Bi-lateral Sciatica) but this is rare. Classic symptoms of Sciatica are pins and needles, tingling or crawling sensations which can be felt anywhere along the path of the nerve, you may also get cramping pains in your lower back, buttocks or legs as the muscles contract and become imbalanced.
You may find standing or sitting painful or difficult, and also find that your body is tilted towards the side of the pain. Coughing and sneezing can also aggravate the situation.
Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed or irritated. This can happen for one or all of the following reasons -:
• A Vertebrae in your lower back is not moving properly, or is out of position. The joint becomes inflamed and irritates the Sciatic nerve.
• If one of your discs is bulging (Herniated or Slipped Disc) this can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which again can become inflamed.
• If a muscle in your lower back tightens this can put pressure on the Sciatic Nerve.
If your Sciatica is in the acute stages (first 6 days) a cold pack will help to reduce the inflammation. You should also use a good anti-inflammatory. This will quickly reduce the inflammation, considerably reduce your pain level, and make you feel altogether better.
It is also important for you to keep active. It has been proven time and time again that bed rest is not a remedy for Sciatica, and will make your situation worse.
The very best way to treat Sciatica is through a combination of non impact aerobic exercises, and exercises that will strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles.
These specialist exercises will address the muscle imbalance, reduce your pain and prevent future reoccurrences.
Although you are probably not feeling up to it, just 20 minutes on a stationery bicycle or elliptical trainer will make feel a lot better.
The muscles in your lower back will have been gently stretched, and the natural endorphins that are released into your body after exercise act as natural pain killer.
Another benefit to sciatica and sciatic pain is stretching. As we age our bodies and lower back become less flexible. By introducing a weekly stretching routine, your body will becomes more flexible and the risk of any injury is greatly reduced.