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Sciatica Back Pain: Understanding the Cause and Treatments

Once you understand the true cause of sciatica, case you can begin the treatments…


Sciatica back pain is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve (your largest nerve, link extending from the lower spine to your feet), resulting in some very painful symptoms. These pains generally start in your lower back and radiate down the leg to the heel of the affected side. Tingling or numbness of the leg and foot can progress to weakness of the muscles, which can cause patients to have difficulty with moving or controlling affected limbs. Many patients have found ways to achieve relief from their sciatica pain by using non-surgical treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, acupuncture, physical activity, massage, and resting.

What Causes Sciatica Back Pain?

The most commonly known cause of sciatica pain is from herniated discs. Either from injury or aging, the disc, which is normally supple and contains fluid, becomes very dry and brittle, and then begins shifting in-between your vertebrae. This causes the disc to bulge to one side, creating pressure on your nerve roots. The pain usually starts by radiating down the backside of either leg and in many cases will eclipse the initial pain. As your disc begins to heal, less pressure is put on the sciatic nerve, and pain in your leg will lessen, relocating into your back. Most healthcare practitioners consider this to be a sign of the healing process.

Exercises That Help Relieve Sciatica Pain:

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching
  • Low impact aerobics

Taking Care of Your Back

When you experience sciatica back pain, it is important that you do not aggravate it by lifting any heavy objects or sitting for a long period of time. Extra care should be taken when performing any regular task that involves your back. Bending of the body should always be done with your knees instead of bending from your waist, which will put a strain on your lower back. Also, receiving sufficient amounts of sleep at night is important in the healing process. Pillows used to elevate your hips or placed between your knees can help to relieve the pressure on the nerves while sleeping on your side.

Treatments for Sciatica Back Pain

Treating the causes of your sciatica back pain will aid in speeding up the healing. If you have a herniated disc, the main goal is to decompress the spine and reduce inflammation. Decompression of the spine can be accomplished in many different ways, such as gentle stretching exercises, chiropractic adjustments, and traction by a physical therapist. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary in order to find relief from sciatica pain.

Most sciatica back pain episodes will heal on their own after running their course for several weeks to months. However, if your pain has not decreased within that duration, it is important to have further examinations and testing done to help determine the cause and receive proper treatment.