What Is Sciatica? What is the Sciatic Nerve? Why does Sciatic Nerve Pain hurt so bad? Get answers your most urgent Sciatica and Sciatic Nerve Pain questions in this article.
What is Sciatica?
People use the term “sciatica” loosely to label everything to do with sciatic nerve-related pain, injury, challenges, and chronic dysfunction. Specifically, though, “sciatica” is a lay person’s descriptor, not a medical diagnosis.
A compression, pinching, irritation, or some other injury or dysfunction of the sciatic nerve is a condition of the body which could have many different causes. Inflammation and swelling of the sciatic nerve is the effect of the sciatic nerve compression, pinching, injury or dysfunction. Pain is the symptom of sciatic nerve inflammation and swelling. And “sciatica” is the common term that facilitates a conversation about all of that.
The term “sciatica” has Greek roots meaning “pain in the hips” and can be traced back to 1398 A.D., when it was used to describe “of pain in the hip.”
Most people who have experienced any aspect of sciatica don’t care how long the word “sciatica” has been used, if it’s a proper medical term or if they’re using it correctly. They just know that they want to stop sciatica pain, the cause, effect, symptoms, and chronic effects because all of it hurts like hell.
What is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve is on both sides of the human body, and the longest nerve in the human body. It starts in the lower back and extends through the hips, buttocks, and all the way down both legs to the heel and sole of the foot.
Each of the sciatic nerves control functions on the same side of the body it is located on. Those functions include stimulating leg muscle movements and carrying sensory messages from the leg to the spine. If you didn’t have fully functioning sciatic nerves on both sides of your body, you wouldn’t be able to walk, run, climb, lift weights, or stand. So as nerves go, your sciatic nerves are pretty important ones.
When a sciatic nerve is functioning, but it is impaired, irritated, inflamed, or damaged, one or both legs may feel stiff, weak, tingling, or swollen and you may feel anything from mild to debilitating pain anywhere along the entire length of the sciatic nerve.
What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like?
Sciatica (which, again, is just a descriptor for pain caused by injury, challenges, and chronic dysfunction of one or both sciatic nerves) can be mild, sever, and everything in between. It can be a sharp pain, a shooting pain, a throbbing pain, burning pain, shocks of pain, or struck-by-lightning pain. Some people describe their sciatica pain as “burning,” “electrical” “radiating” or “stabbing” pain.
Sciatica pain might come and go, or it might be constant. If it is not constant, it might be triggered or become worse if you sit or stand for extended periods of time, when you stand, when your twist your top body, or when you have a sudden sharp movement such as when you cough or sneeze.
Most people feel sciatica pain in one of their legs more than in their lower back. However, sciatica pain, swelling, discomfort and numbness can be experienced anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve.
The severity of Sciatica pain can vary widely, from mild pain to agonizing pain. Generally only one side of your body is affected. In the extreme, sciatic nerve pain can be so intense that it is debilitating or immobilizing.
How Long Will Sciatica Pain Last?
Some people have experienced long-term chronic sciatic nerve pain for years. Others report that their sciatica pain is resolved within a couple of weeks. The length of the pain can be dependent on the initial cause. Eliminating the source of the sciatic nerve compression, pinching, irritation, injury or dysfunction is the first step to allowing the sciatic nerve to heal from its inflammation and swelling.
People have successfully used natural methods such as chiropractic, massage therapy, osteopathy, and physical therapy to eliminate the cause of their Sciatica. Others have used Western medicine imaging tests such as an X-rays or MRIs to diagnose the source of their sciatic nerve irritation.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica pain is often triggered by a herniated disk, spine constriction, or bone spur that compresses, pinches, injures, or irritates the sciatic nerve.
Treatments for Sciatica Pain
Generally, natural treatment methods are used to eliminate sciatica pain. Click here for a list of effective natural treatments for sciatica pain >>
Surgery is generally only a last resort used in extreme cases when other methods for eliminating the compression, pinching, irritation, injury or dysfunction have been unsuccessful.