Sciatica - It Can Be Nasty!
WHAT IS SCIATICA?
Sciatica is a painful condition involving inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the largest in the body, almost the diameter of your thumb! It originates in your lumbar spine (L4, 5, and S1-3) and courses deep into the buttocks, down the back and to the outer side of the leg, eventually traveling all the way to under the bottom of your foot.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Sciatica feels like a deep, dull toothache down your leg, and can last for months. The symptoms can vary from day to day and even from hour to hour. Back pain is not always present but more than likely you feel it in your buttocks. At times, it may only affect a portion of the thigh or the calf. Sciatica can cause numbness and tingling in the foot. Acute sciatica may be bad enough for you to limp … or you may even experience something resembling an electric shock shooting down your leg!
Most sciatica is on one side only and is “insidious”, meaning, it comes on gradually and can’t be pinpointed to a specific event.
WHY DO YOU GET IT?
Sciatica is the result of an imbalance in your spine creating excessive pressure on the nerve. Why? One side may be stronger than the other or possibly your spine is crooked, causing more wear and tear to that side. The rapid “front end load” caused by pregnancy can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Here are some things to do for your sciatica:
- Keep the knee of the affected side higher than your hip. When sitting, place something under your foot to raise your knee.
- When lying in bed or hanging out on the sofa, put something under your knee to raise it.
- If you are a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees with the bad side up.
- Sit with knee crossed, ankle on the knee, the bad side does the crossing (shown).
- Do the piriformis stretch (shown).
Slight downward pressure on up knee This is known as a "piriformis" stretch
- When driving, bring your seat closer to the steering wheel to raise both knees, as if you were sitting in a real “bucket seat.”
- Ice your buttocks.
WHAT IF IT ISN'T SCIATICA?
You should see a doctor if:
You get the “electric shocks” mentioned above.
You have sciatica on both sides.
You have persistent numbness in your foot, especially if it affects your gait.
Your sciatica continues to get worse.
Your pain gets to the point where you can’t do the things you want or need to do.
You notice changes in your bowel or bladder function.
HOW CAN PUREPOSTURE HELP?
The best way to deal with sciatica is not to get it in the first place. PurePosture can help with sciatica. By correctly aligning your spine so BOTH sides of your back share the load equally easing the pressure on the nerve. Increased spinal flexibility is a great way to prevent conditions like sciatica. Check out PurePosture!