Back pain issues are common among office workers and even individuals working from home. This health condition should be given proper attention so that the level of productivity and efficiency is ensured. Another condition that everyone should be aware of is sciatica pain. Find out what are the common remedies for this and how some ergonomic products can help.
What is Sciatica?
"Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body", according to Mayo Clinic.
Sciatica often occurs when a herniated disk, the bone spur on the spine, or the spinal stenosis compresses a certain part of the nerves. This leads to pain, inflammation, pain, and numbness of the affected leg.
Although the pain related to sciatica can worsen, the majority of cases can be treated without doing operative treatments. However, individuals with severe sciatica pain that's causing weakness of the legs and bladder issues can undergo operations.
It is crucial to give urgent attention to sciatica pain because it can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
Common Causes of Sciatica Pain?
According to Medicine.net, sciatica is commonly caused by a lumbar disc herniation directly pressing the nerve. In rare cases, the compressed nerve is caused by a tumor or conditions like diabetes.
The risk factors for sciatica pain are the following:
- Weight issues. Excess weight can increase the stress on the spine and may contribute to having sciatica.
- Aging. Changes happen in the spine as you age, such as bone spurs and herniated discs.
- Diabetes. The process by which our body utilizes blood sugar heightens the risk of nerve damage.
- Long hours of sitting. People who are often engaged in a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to develop sciatica.
- Work-related risks. When your job requires you to carry heavy loads, drive for long hours, and twist your back, you can also be at risk of having sciatica pain.
Symptoms of Sciatica Pain
The common signs of sciatica pain often start with a pain that radiates starting from the lumbar area or lower spine going to the back of the legs. There can also be numbness, weakness, and tingling feeling on the affected leg or foot.
There is also discomfort in the nerve passageway from the lower back to the thigh and calf. Sciatica pain can range from mild to sharp; it can be a burning sensation or a feeling similar to a jolt of electric shock.
The pain worsens when you sneeze, cough, and sit for long hours. The patient will notice that only one side of the body is affected.
Some other common symptoms of sciatica pain are numbness, posture-induced symptoms, and pain. In its published article, it mentioned:
"While sciatica is most commonly a result of a lumbar disc herniation directly pressing on the nerve, any cause of irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve can produce the symptoms of sciatica. This irritation of nerves as a result of an abnormal intervertebral disc is referred to as radiculopathy. Aside from a pinched nerve from a disc, other causes of sciatica include irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone, tumors, muscle, internal bleeding, infections in or around the lumbar spine, spondylolisthesis, injury, spinal stenosis, cauda equina syndrome, osteophyte, and other causes."
The possible sciatica complications are permanent nerve damage, loss of bladder or bowel functions, loss of feeling in the legs, and weakness in the affected leg.
What are the common sciatica pain remedies?
When you notice some of the sciatica pain symptoms, it will be best to seek professional help and get proper treatment.
The first option that people with sciatica use to treat sciatica is taking medicines, such as over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can be very helpful. However, it is still recommended to use them with the advice of professionals for possible side effects.
#2 Physical therapy
A professional physical therapist can assist in developing a routine for stretching and exercising. This will help improve the posture and alleviate the pressure from sciatica nerves.
#3 Alternative therapies
Some alternative therapies that can help treat sciatica pain are acupuncture, yoga, biofeedback, massage, and yoga.
There are simple exercises that can improve inflammation due to sciatica pain. Taking short walks can be one great idea. A physical therapist can help you do some movement exercises, so you will not injure yourself.
#5 Hot and cold therapy
You can also do hot and cold therapy. Apply it on your lower back for several minutes, a few times per day. Use cold packs first in a few days, and then the heat packs after.
When non-surgical options fail, your last option can be surgery. In sciatica pain cases that still last after three months of stretching, resting, and taking medicine, the physician may recommend surgery.
In this procedure, your doctor will remove whatever is causing the sciatica nerve, such as bone spur, herniated disk, or something else. In some cases, the surgeon may get rid of the entire disk to solve the issue.
During this procedure, the surgeon will remove the lamina (the part of the bone's ring covering the spinal cord). This will get rid of tissue pressing the nerve that results in pain.
Ways To Prevent Sciatica Pain
To protect yourself from sciatica pain, it is advisable to consider the following tips:
#1 Maintain a good posture when sitting.
Make sure to avoid slouching when seated. Choose a chair that provides armrests, good lower back support, and a swivel base. You can also use a pillow and place it in your back to keep its normal curve. Your hips and knees should be level.
#2 Exercise regularly.
Keep your back strong by paying attention to your core muscles. Remember that your lower back and the abdomen's muscles are vital for the body's proper alignment and posture. Make sure to ask for advice and recommendations from your doctor or physical therapist.
#3 Apply proper body mechanics.
When you need to lift a load, make sure to have your lower extremities do the work. Bend your knees and hold the load close to the body. Rest one foot on a small box or a stool from time to time when you need to stand for long hours.
Ergonomic Products That Can Help with Sciatica Pain
Since your posture has a significant impact on how sciatica pain can be developed and prevented, it is important to know how some ergonomic products can help.
#1 Standing Desks
Standing desks are equipment that can be programmable or manually-operated. They can help promote proper posture and get rid of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Experts have been telling us how dangerous it is to be sitting for long hours while working or doing some stuff. It can hurt our back and may result in health-threatening conditions. But with the help of standing desks, you can easily shift from sitting to standing. Its height can be adjusted easily so that you won't be sedentary.
#2 Desk Converters
Desk converters are devices that can be attached to a desk to achieve the proper height for you. It will help you work more comfortably while maintaining a proper posture.
#3 Ergonomic Chair
An ergonomic chair can effectively help in preventing lower back issues, including sciatica pain. However, make sure to choose an ergonomic chair that offers some helpful features such as lumbar support, headrest, armrest, seat cushion, and adjustable height and angle. You can check AnthroDesk's high-back ergonomic chair here.
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