10 Essential FAQs About Sciatica: Expert Tips & Solutions.

A person experiencing sciatica, holding their lower back with one hand while the pain radiates down the back of their leg, from the buttock to the thigh

1. What causes sciatica?

Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, often due to a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or muscle spasms. In rare cases, conditions like tumours or infections can also cause sciatica. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed, usually by a herniated disk in the spine or an overgrowth of bone.”

2. How can I prevent sciatica?

Maintain good posture, exercise regularly to strengthen your back and core muscles, use proper lifting techniques, and avoid prolonged sitting or standing. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recommends, “Exercise regularly to keep your back strong and maintain proper posture.”

3. When should I see a doctor for sciatica?

Seek medical attention if your pain is severe, persists for more than a few weeks, radiates down your leg, or is accompanied by other symptoms like numbness, weakness, or bladder/bowel issues. The Cleveland Clinic advises, “If your pain lasts longer than a week or is severe, you should seek medical attention.”

4. What are some effective treatments for sciatica?

Treatments include physical therapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, medications (such as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers), hot/cold therapy, spinal decompression therapy and, in some cases, surgery. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a personalised treatment plan. According to WebMD, “Treatment options for sciatica can include physical therapy, medications, and sometimes surgery.”

5. Can exercise help alleviate sciatica?

Yes, specific exercises can help strengthen the muscles supporting your back, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Always consult a healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. Harvard Health states, “Exercise can help relieve pain and strengthen the muscles that support your back.”

6. Is sciatica common during pregnancy?

Yes, many women experience sciatica during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, weight gain, and changes in posture. Gentle exercise, proper posture, and supportive cushions can help alleviate the discomfort. The American Pregnancy Association notes, “Sciatica is common during pregnancy due to increased weight and changes in posture.”

7. How can I manage sciatica at home?

Rest, applying ice or heat, over-the-counter pain medications, and gentle stretching can help manage sciatica. Avoid prolonged bed rest, as it can worsen the condition. According to Mayo Clinic, “Self-care measures like rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications can help reduce symptoms.”

8. What is spinal decompression therapy?

Spinal decompression therapy is a non-surgical treatment that uses traction to relieve pressure on spinal discs and nerves. It can help alleviate pain caused by conditions like herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. Spine-Health explains, “Spinal decompression therapy can provide relief for patients with herniated discs and chronic back pain.”

9. Can poor posture cause sciatica?

Yes, poor posture can contribute to the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and discomfort. Maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing, and lifting can help prevent sciatica. Ergonomics Plus notes, “Poor posture can cause musculoskeletal disorders and nerve compression.”

10. Are there any lifestyle changes that can help with sciatica?

Yes, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing stress, staying active, and avoiding prolonged sitting can help manage and prevent sciatica. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can also ensure you are on the right track. NINDS suggests, “Lifestyle changes and regular medical check-ups can help manage and prevent sciatica.”

For more information on managing sciatica or to book an appointment, visit Greenacre Sports Medicine Clinic.

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