Sciatic nerve pain, or simply sciatica, can be brought on by a variety of causes. Your sciatic nerve is a major nerve that travels from the spinal cord to the lower back, going down the back of the leg all the way to the foot. That’s why sciatica can be more than just a pain in the back — depending on the exact location of the compression, sciatica can cause pain throughout the lower body.
Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. A range of different conditions can put pressure on the nerve. Ruptured or bulging discs are the most common cause of sciatica, but it can also result from spinal stenosis, a pinched nerve, or bone spurs. Some women experience sciatic pain during pregnancy, as the weight of the developing child places pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Treatments for sciatica vary depending on the cause (for example, in the case of pregnancy, the condition is temporary). For some, conservative treatments may provide relief, while issues like a severely degenerated disc may indicate that a minimally invasive spine surgery is needed.
Exercise may help to relieve pain from sciatica. Though you are likely tempted to rest your muscles, since movement can cause pain to spike, inactivity is actually to worsen your pain in the long run. If your back muscles decondition, they are less able to support your back. Weaker muscles can lead to additional strain on your back and increase your potential for injury.
It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a physician who specializes in treating chronic back pain like Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, of the Spine Institute Northwest. Even mild exercise should not be undertaken without the advice of a doctor. Exercise programs to help address sciatic nerve pain are designed to address the underlying cause of the pain — exercises that will help with pain caused by stenosis are not the same as those that will relieve pain from spondylolisthesis.
Most exercises for sciatica involve a combination of building core muscle strength — the abdominal and back muscles — and stretching. Though exercise alone will not eliminate the underlying cause of sciatica, a regular exercise program can help you recover more quickly from a flare-up and help reduce the frequency and severity of future episodes.
Do you think you may be suffering from sciatic nerve pain? A proper diagnosis is the first step in getting back your life. Contact the Spine Institute Northwest today at 888-712-0318 to learn more about how we’ve helped people from all over Canada find relief from pain.