Sciatica is a nerve pain which occurs because of the irritation of the sciatic nerve. It is a large nerve that passes from the back lower down to both the legs. The pain occurs when something presses upon the nerve or there is increased pressure on the sciatic nerve.
It is the largest vein in the body and the pain can be felt radiating down from the back to buttocks to both the legs. There may be many reasons which can precipitate an attack of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve originates from the third lumbar segment of the spine.
SYMPTOMS OF SCIATICA
The pain may be severe radiating down to the legs. The patient may also experience burning or tingling down to the legs.
The legs may also feel numb and they may also experience difficulty moving the legs or foot.
The pain may be shooting in character making it difficult to stand up.
In many cases bladder, bowel control may be lost due to pressure on particular areas of the spinal nerves which control the bladder and bowel respect.
COMMON CAUSES OF SCIATICA
Sciatica is mainly caused by the irritation of the lumbosacral region of the spine.
Other causes that may lead to this condition are:-
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the region of the lower back
- The intervertebral spaces in the spine are separated by specialized lubricating discs which provide cushion to the vertebrae and prevent friction between them when they move together. Due to wear and tear these discs breakdown and friction between them increases putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Degenerative diseases affecting the disc structure are also responsible for this condition.
- It occurs when one vertebrae slips over the other.
- Pregnancy is another condition where there is increased pressure on the lower part of the body especially the Sciatic nerve which results in Sciatica.
There are other factors also which may worsen back pain and precipitate sciatic nerve compression. These are, an excessive body weight, bad posture, lack of exercise etc.
EXERCISES TO HELP RELIEVE PAIN IN SCIATICA
Physical exercises for sciatica can help in relieving back pain to a large extent. For example, in case of people who are obese or live a sedentary lifestyle, a combination of strengthening, stretching and aerobics can be very effective in managing the condition.
Strengthening exercises concentrated on the lower back can help improve blood circulation to that area and improve the flexibility of the vertebral column. It also helps tone the entire muscles of the, buttocks, thigh and the lower legs.
Stretching exercises also help reduce pain sensation in the lower back region. They help to maintain the flexibility of the back muscles. Continuous swelling and pain in the back and thighs in sciatica causes tightness and stiffness in the muscles of the back.
Moderate aerobics help secrete healthy hormones in the body which naturally curb pain in sciatica. Swimming, walking, jogging are some of those exercises which can help create a healing environment in the body.
AYURVEDIC POINT OF VIEW
According to Ayurveda, chronic back pain like sciatica is known as "Gridhrasi". Gridhrasi is derived from the word "Gridhra" which means vulture.
The patients of this condition develop an altered gait due to severe pain in the back and his gait can be compared to that of a vulture. Even vulture's prey feels a severe excruciating pain with which the pain of Sciatica can be compared.
It is primarily a disorder of imbalanced vata body energy. Sometimes kapha body energy may also be associated with it in which case it may have the involvement of vata as well as kapha body energy.