The sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the body. The nerve starts in your lower back and splits to run through your hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. There is one on the left side and one on the right side.
Could you be experiencing sciatica?
Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve from your lower back into the back or side or your legs. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, severe pain. You may also experience numbness, tingling, and weakness in your leg or foot. Usually only one side of your body is affected.
Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve is pinched, usually by a herniated disk in your spine or by an overgrowth of bone on your vertebrae. Sometimes a tumor can compress the nerve or a disease like diabetes can damage it. You’ll want to consult with your healthcare provider for a physical exam to confirm if you are experiencing sciatica.
Sciatica typically develops over time. It’s not always possible to prevent sciatica, and the condition may recur. For some individuals, particularly those who are also diabetic, sciatica can be a chronic issue. Some factors that increase the likelihood of sciatica include:
- Age. Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs. Sciatica is most commonly seen in patients in their 40s or older.
- Obesity. Excess body weight increases the stress on your spine and can contribute to spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
- Prolonged sitting. People who sit for prolonged periods are more likely to develop sciatica than active people.
- Physical strain. Frequently twisting your back or carrying heavy loads may play a role.
- Diabetes. Diabetes can increase your risk of nerve damage.
- Acute event. Motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or falls may cause direct injury to the sciatic nerve.
What can you do about sciatica pain?
In most cases, people recover from sciatica in a few weeks and healthcare providers often do not recommend surgery. Below are some suggestions for controlling the pain. Keeping active is important!
- Stretch and exercise regularly. Your core muscles keep your back strong. Make sure you are paying attention to your abdominal and lower back muscles. Stretching can also help relieve muscles around the nerve.
- Maintain proper posture when you sit and lift heavier items. Give your back the right ergonomic support. Find a chair with good lower back support and armrests. Keep your knees and hips level. Be careful when lifting heaving items and let your legs power the movement.
- Be mindful of how much time you spend sitting. Sitting for too long can cause a a disk to weaken, the disk to bulge out and press against the nerve. We’ve even heard of situations where a long flight accompanied by long meetings may precede a flare-up of sciatica.
Laser therapy with Tui Na (massage) for sciatica pain
At Juvenate Healing in Tempe, we offer a special package for a session of laser therapy and Tui Na (a holistic form of massage). We have seen great results for patients with this combination that works inside your body cells and improves circulation.
Laser therapy reduces the inflammation caused by the compressed or pinched sciatic nerve. This can help to ease the pain. Some studies also suggest that laser therapy promotes regeneration of injured nerves.
Tui na can feel like a deep tissue massage or a more gentle treatment. It combines the features of traditional massage with knowledge of circulation meridians and acupoints. Tui na increases circulation and clears blockages in the body.