Sciatic Nerve Pain - Is The True Cause Vitamin Deficiency?
Neuralgia, a common example of sciatic nerve pain is an umbrella term for any type of throbbing pain that extends along the course of one or more of the peripheral nerves.
What Is The Sciatic Nerve
Sciatic nerve, the longest and widest single nerve in the human body starts from the base of the spine then branches into two travelling down through the buttocks, down the back of the thighs and all the way down to the feet of both legs.
The work of this nerve is to supply sensations and control the movement of the lower half of the body. The nerve also coordinates the flexing of the hips and knees, dictates the motion of the feet, and communicates what happens to the lower part of the body back to the brain.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?
The spine is a stack of bones, discs, and joints held together by muscles and ligaments. The bones, called the vertebrae, runs from the neck to the lower back. In between the vertebrae are the shock-absorbing discs that form a cushioning layer between the bones.
The sciatic nerve also runs in between the spinal canal and the vertebrae. Sometimes one of the discs can become herniated, or degenerated, and when this happens, the nerve becomes entrapped within the disc, causing compression and pinching of the nerve. This causes a sharp pain that can radiate from the base of the spine into the buttocks, the thighs or the legs.
Sciatic nerve pain is mostly a result of a herniated or degenerative disc directly pressing on the nerve, but other causes such as irritation or inflammation of this nerve can also produce the symptoms of this pain. Other factors that can also cause symptoms include tumors, infections, spinal stenosis and injury.
Herniated Disc: A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of the disc leaks out, through the fibrous outer core of the disc and irritates the nerve root as it exits the spine. The general consensus is that a sudden twisting motion or injury can lead to a herniated disc and sciatic nerve pain.
However, it should also be noted that most discs weaken over time due to repetitive stress which can also result in herniation. When a disc is herniated, it pinches and irritates the nerve, causing spasm pain. Words like slipped disc, bulging disc, or protruding disc are sometimes interchanged with herniated disc.
Spinal Stenosis: The natural aging of the spine can cause the spinal canal to narrow, creating stenosis of the spine. This can be due to overgrowth of soft tissues, an enlarged facet joint, or a bulging disc which places pressure on the nerve roots as they exit the spine, causing pain.
Degenerative Disc: Disc degeneration is a natural process that occurs with aging, but deficiency of vitamin B12 can also lead to degeneration of the spinal cord and widespread neuralgia. When one of more discs becomes degenerated, it can irritate a nerve root and cause sciatic pain.
Tumors: Sciatic nerve pain caused by a spinal tumor is rare, but when this happens to be the cause, a spinal tumor can impinge on a nerve root in the lower back and cause sciatic pain symptoms.
Infections: It is also rare for an infection to be the cause of sciatic pain. However, if an infection occurs in the low back, it can affect the nerve root and cause sciatic pain.
Symptoms Of Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain is characterized by a sharp pain either in the lower back, the buttocks, the back of the thighs, or the back of the legs. It is sometimes accompanied by a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling. Walking or bending from the waist aggravates the pain.
Some people experience severe and debilitating pain, whilst others might suffer from infrequent and irritating bouts of pain. Most sciatic pain results from inflammation and usually gets better within a couple of weeks to a few months. However, if you experience progressive weakness in the leg or bladder or bowel incontinence, you should seek prompt medical attention. The following are some common symptoms.
• Pain on one side of the buttock or in one leg that gets worse with prolonged sitting or lying down
• Burning or tingling down the leg
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg
• Pain that radiates from the base of the spine to the back of thighs
• A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk
What Do You Do If You Feel These Symptoms?
Most importantly, you need to find out if sciatic nerve pain is the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and test specific functions of the nerve. X-Rays or an MRI may be performed to further diagnose the symptoms.
Bear in mind that several other conditions may cause hip and thigh pain, and needs to be taken into consideration. As such, it is important to determine the correct cause of your symptoms before you seek treatment or
sciatic nerve pain relief.
Treatment Options For Sciatic Nerve Pain
The good news is that sciatic nerve pain usually gets better within a few days or weeks. However, occasional flare-ups may be an indication of a condition that should be managed to stop progression. Pain management includes regular exercises and physical therapy.
The following are a number of natural non-drug treatment options you can use to help alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Application of Heat or Ice
For acute sciatic pain, heat or ice packs can help alleviate the pain, especially in the initial phase. Ice or heat is should be applied for approximately 20 minutes and repeated every two hours.
The use of ice and heat can be alternated to give relief to sciatic pain. Most people prefer to use ice first, but some people get better relief with heat. Experiment with both and find what works better for you.
Herbal painkillers such as valerian or willow bark can be taken to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain. The ingredient in willow bark that makes it such a powerful painkiller is salicylate, the same ingredient in aspirin. Studies of participants who took 240 mg. of willow bark extract daily for a month were amazed when the herb swept away their pain.
Beat Sciatic Nerve Pain With B Vitamins
Orthopedic surgeons believe that the B vitamins can stabilize and heal the membranes that surround delicate spinal nerves. Studies suggest a 50 mg. of B-complex supplement can relieve the pain within one month in 70% of cases.
Strengthen Your Spine With The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D works with dietary calcium to build strong vertebrae and repair bone tissues. Strong vertebrae are less likely to collapse and pinch nerves. Recommended dose of 2,000 IU a day was reported to give relief to 93% of lower back pain sufferers who took the vitamin for 90 days.
Massage increases blood circulation and relaxes the muscles. It also releases endorphins which are the body’s natural pain relievers. There are many forms of massage, but the most common and helpful is the Swedish massage which involves a gentle gliding and kneading pressure to loosen and relax the back area.
You can also use St. John's Wort oil mixed with olive oil to massage the areas where you feel the pain. This eases the pain tremendously.
Low Impact Aerobic Exercise
Contrary to popular belief, stretching and strengthening exercises to ease back pain do not work, in fact it worsens the pain. This conclusion was reached by researchers from UCLA and the University of Michigan.
Some form of low impact exercise, such as walking is usually a component of recovery. Taking a 30 minute brisk walk for six days a week reduces low back pain and distress. Other exercises you can engage in that have been proven to help sufferers include hiking, biking, water aerobics, dancing, mini- trampoline, swimming and dancing.
Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation
Research shows that if a patient suffering from sciatic nerve pain FIRST consults a medical doctor they are more likely to end up under the knife, than if they FIRST consult a chiropractor. So it is important to first find out if a pinched sciatic nerve is the cause of your lower back pain.
A Chiropractor will perform a Slump test to confirm a pinched sciatic nerve. Once a pinched nerve and/or slipped disc is determined, the chiropractor can perform a gentle or forceful push to spinal joints that have become restricted in their movement due to injury, slipped disc, or poor posture.
This spinal manipulation can help loosen the joints and relieve the slipped disc
symptoms, restore circulation and free the pinched spinal nerves to give you relief from the excruciating pain.
The food for thought here is to take care of your lower back to eliminate sciatic nerve pain.
For more information on how to improve sciatica and lower back pain
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