March 06, 2022
The term “sciatica” (say “sigh-ATTA-kuh”) comes originally from the Greek word “ischiadikos” meaning “trouble in the hips”. If you have ever experienced the pain of sciatica, which has been described as burning, stabbing, shooting, electric jolts of pain, you’re likely nodding your head in agreement. For those who suffer the pain of sciatica, it’s trouble indeed! Sciatica is actually pretty common, with about 40 percent of people in the U.S. developing it at some point over their lifetime.
But what is sciatica exactly and could you be at risk of developing it?
Sciatica refers to the sciatic nerve, which has its origin in the buttock area. This nerve, which is one of the thickest and longest in your entire body, is almost as big as your finger and is actually made up of five different nerve roots. Two of these roots are in the lower lumbar spine region and three come from the sacrum at the very end of the spine. These roots fuse together on each side of the spine to form your left and right sciatic nerves.
These sciatic nerves travel down each side of your body, running through your hips, buttocks and then down your legs and end just below your knee. Each nerve then branches even further into more nerves which run down your legs into your feet and your toes. No wonder these nerves have to be so long!
Sciatica is nerve pain that comes from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. An actual injury to the sciatic nerve is fairly rare, and most pain comes from irritation or inflammation of the nerve or from compression or pinching of a nerve in the area of your lower back. The actual experience of sciatica varies greatly from person to person, as it can be mild to severe.
The pain of sciatica can occur anywhere along the path that the sciatic nerve takes from its origin in the lumbar spine or sacral area all the way down your legs and into your toes. Besides pain, sciatica can also cause numbness in your leg, muscular weakness in your leg or foot, and a prickling “pins and needles” sensation in your leg, foot, or toes.
Many times, the pain of sciatica will go away on its own after some time. At-home treatments include an ice pack for the initial pain, then after several days, switching to heat is usually advised. People usually take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®, for pain and inflammation, but if those are not tolerated, then acetaminophen (Tylenol®) can help as well. Gentle stretching exercises can help, but you should get instruction on how to do those properly to avoid exacerbating the pain. For cases of sciatica that don’t resolve, further treatment may be indicated, such as physical therapy, prescription medications, or even steroid injections in your back. Surgery is sometimes indicated to relieve pressure on the nerve.
Risk factors for the development of sciatica include a previous injury to your lower back, getting older, being overweight, having weak core muscles in your lower back and abdomen, being diabetic, having osteoarthritis, smoking, being generally inactive and sedentary, and having a job that requires heavy lifting. It’s a good idea to bolster your body with DeepMarine’s high quality collagen supplement which supports bone health, reduces systemic inflammation and builds tissue strength.
Of course, some of these risk factors are within your control and some are not. There’s nothing you can do about getting older but you can keep your body weight in an optimum range, strengthen your core back and abdominal muscles with exercise, stop smoking and get active if you are not. Also, if you have a job that requires heavy lifting, using proper form when lifting and getting help with lifting very heavy objects will help to prevent problems.