Sciatica is inflammation of sciatica nerve. Inflammation is caused when sciatic nerve is compressed or injured. The sciatic nerve originates from lower segment of the lumbar and sacral nerves. It is in fact the longest nerve which runs throughout the leg on its posterior side.
When the nerve gets compressed, it causes radiating pain all along the pathway travelled by the nerve, which is from back to the buttocks, and behind the leg till the foot. The pain is sharp and burning which debilitates the person. Walking and movement are difficult when patient suffers from acute symptoms of sciatica.
Sciatic nerve is the longest peripheral nerve in the body. The main function of sciatic nerve is related to movement of leg and its sensory branch is responsible for sensation. The typical burning and numbness with difficult movement of leg is classical sign and symptom of sciatic pain. It usually starts from the buttocks of the affected leg and radiates down the leg.
Causes Of Sciatic Nerve Pain In Leg
Usually the sciatic nerve is compressed due to tightening of the pyriform muscles in the pelvis. Stretching of this muscle brings relief in sciatica pain.When the condition is worse, patient may experience pain even when he coughs or sneezes. People between 30 and 50 are mostly affected with sciatica pain.
The most common cause for sciatica is herniated spinal disc. The disc is a cushion between the two spinal bones called vertebra. When the disc slips in the area where the sciatic nerve is present, it causes irritation and pressure on the nerve. This leads to pain and numbness in the leg.
The other reasons such as spondylolisthesis, spinal canal stenosis, and piriformis muscle spasm can irritate the nerve. Pain also occurs during pregnancy in some women. The growing uterus compresses the nerve.
Standing for long time or sitting with a wrong posture may also lead to sciatica. Many men, who keep their wallet in back pocket and sit on them, are vulnerable to suffer from sciatica. It is associated with nerve compression.
Stretching Exercise For Treatment Of Sciatica
Treatment for sciatica is aimed at relieving pain as well as spasm of the muscle. Generally conservative approach works well for sciatica disease. In its acute phase, sciatica patients are recommended anti-inflammatory medicines to alleviate pain. Complete bed rest is advised during the course. When the pain reduces, patient is able to move comfortably.
Physiotherapy with sciatic stretching exercises is considered to be the most effective way of treating sciatica. Stretching exercises increases blood circulation as well as relieve the spasm of piriformis and other muscles of the back and buttocks. Here are some of the sciatica stretches.
Sciatica stretches1: this exercise is good for relieving sciatic pain. It involves hamstring muscles of the thigh and muscles of the gluteus region. The stretching exercise can be performed on flat ground, or on the bed.
- Lie on the floor with one leg folded at the knee joint.
- Now bring the folded leg towards your chest. You can use both your hands for grasping the knee.
- It is more comforting when you grasp your leg below the knee joint, especially suited for patients suffering from osteoarthritis of knee.
Sciatica stretches for piriformis muscle spasm: this exercise helps in stretching the piriformis muscle situated in the buttocks. This exercise is good for sciatica as well as backache. The exercise has to be performed on the floor.
- Lie down on your back. Cross your left leg over the right leg.
- Bring your right leg towards your chest and hold it for few seconds.
- Come back to the original position.
- Repeat the same exercise for other leg.