Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that involves leg pain which stems from the nerves of the lower back. The pain usually can be felt through the buttocks and down the rear of each leg where the sciatic nerve runs. The cause of sciatica can vary and it can be caused by ruptured spinal disks, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. Sciatica can also be a the result of deterioration in the joints that accompanies osteoarthritis. Arthritis is something that affects most people as the get older to a greater or lesser degree. Wear on the joints can cause instability and when the joint is stressed it causes muscles to tighten to protect it with the result that the sciatic nerve gets stretched of squeezed. Osteoarthritis also causes narrowing in the spinal joints with the consequent risk of compromising the sciatic nerve which passes through a small opening called the foramina between the bones.

Symptoms
The common symptoms related to sciatica are a constant pain in one leg (it is rare for it to affect both legs at the same time) a radiating pain that is worse when in a seated position, a burning or tingling sensation in one leg and numbness or the inability to move the foot or knee.

Managing Sciatica
Sciatica pain can be managed in several ways ranging from painkillers to hot and cold therapy. Painkillers can help mask the pain experienced with sciatica eliminating the pain and lack of mobility in either one or both of the legs. Over the counter medications are effective in reducing symptoms of sciatica although in certain cases prescription NSAIDs may be the better course of action. Oral steroids and muscle relaxants are sometimes prescribed for the treatment of severe pain caused by sciatica though this will be a short-term solution as the medication is limited to prevent addiction. When thinking of using painkillers to help manage the pain it is important to understand the type of pain you are feeling and where the symptoms cause the most problems. Tramadol is not usual prescribed for this type of pain as anti-inflammatories are preferred unless there is some bleeding risk such as stroke.

Getting Pain Relief
When looking to boost the pain relief you are taking, the use of hot and cold therapy can help. Taking a long, hot soak in a bath for around 30 minutes to one hour can help provide pain relief. There is also the option of specially made hot and cold packs that can be heated in the microwave or frozen in the freezer. These packs can be placed directly over the sciatic nerve and provide instant relief. When using a hot or cold pack it is important to place a cloth between the pack and the skin top prevent damage or burns. When combined with painkillers or medication to limit the effects of sciatica, hot and cold compresses can help maximize the relief you will experience. Sciatica can not be cured without medical intervention, so dealing with the long-term or chronic pain involved should be discussed with your GP or pharmacist so that you can develop a plan of action for your pain management.