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Back Pain And Sciatica

Americans spend 85 billion dollars a year attempting to find ways for approximately 80% of us to find relief from back pain. Back pain is the leading reason why people miss work, which accounts for 83 million sick days a year. Back pain is not a new problem, but lower back pain has increased in the last 40 years.

Back pain is usually caused by muscles in the back becoming over-strained or injured, but it can be caused by a disorder which effects one of the structures in or around the spine. Pain may be damaged by the ligaments, muscles or one of the vertebral joints or discs.

The discs in the back are located between each of the vertebrate which contains a gelatinous core surrounded by a fibrous ring. With age or injury, the discs can rupture, causing the gelatinous contents to spill out, which then press on the nerves. When this happens, referred pain, such as sciatica can occur.

The Sciatica nerve is the longest nerve in the body that runs from the lower lumbar and upper sacral vertebrate to the pelvis, down the thigh and back of the leg. Any pain that might be felt along this pathway is called sciatica. This is a type of referred pain where the pain is felt in the areas supplied by the nerve, rather than at the actual site of damage.

For instance, sciatica pain might be felt in the lower back, extending down to the leg. This pain can range from mild to very severe, with shooting or burning sensations . There could be numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg, feet and toes which could include muscle spasms in the buttocks or leg. Loss of nerve reflexes in the knee and ankles could also accompany sciatica.

Causes of sciatica include: *slipped disc *pregnancy and childbirth *strain after heavy lifting *stress *injury to the back *abnormality of the sacroiliac joint *a tumor which might be pressing on the sciatica nerve (rare)

Sciatica by itself is not dangerous, however muscle wasting, numbness, weakness and loss of reflexes might be due to nerve root compression and should be treated by a doctor. The treatment for sciatica includes: *rest for a few days *anti-inflammatory drugs *drugs for muscle spasm *physiotherapy *If the above therapies don't work, sometimes an epidural corticosteroid may be given to reduce pain and speed recovery time. *surgery (less than 1%)

Other causes of backache are: *Bone structure abnormalities * poor muscle tone and posture *obesity *The hormones in pregnancy may loosen the ligaments *stress or depression (which causes back muscles to tense up)

Many doctors believe that because obesity and inactivity are on the rise; backaches are on the rise too. Obesity most certainly makes any back problem or injury harder to overcome, and re-occurrence is far more likely. Also carrying excess pounds stresses the joints and muscles, while not moving around enough causes stiffness and tension.

The number 1 natural remedy is: maintaining an ideal weight along with regular physical activity.

Other helpful remedies include: *In any activity instead of curving and bending your back (it puts pressure on the discs), bend from the hips. Keep your back as flat as possible when tilting forward.

*Consciously think about your back, and keep your abdominal muscles tightened throughout the day as a support. Keeping abdominal muscles strong supports the back over-all. I do sit-ups and pilates to strengthen my abdominals, which supports my back 4 times a week.

*Choose the right shoes. The wrong pair of shoes have hurt many a back (not to mention the feet), so for everyday health and comfort think low and wide. Avoid high heels because they make your lower back arch.

*Get up and move around. Sitting in one spot all day puts pressure on on the discs of your lower back. Experts suggest getting up and walking around every hour. If you work at a desk, periodically shift your body weight from one side to the other.

*Don't carry around too much weight too often. Don't carry around more than about 10% of your body weight. Lighten up those purses and those book-bags!

*Bend at the knees which will transfer the weight to your legs rather than straining your back

90 percent of the time back pain will go away on its own within 4 to 6 weeks, but of course, people want to feel better NOW! It is always a good idea to visit your doctor for pain if it is bad, you are not sure what is causing it or if the existing pain is not improving. Your doctor can then evaluate you in order to get to the bottom of the pain, and then refer to a specialist if necessary.

Here are some pain treatments that work: *Wrap ice in a towel and apply to painful area, within the 48-72 after the injury. Put ice on the injury for 20 minutes at a time. This will help bring down swelling and inflammation. After that, especially if you suffer from chronic pain use heat to soothe the muscles and joints. A heating pad or menthol pads will work wonders.

*If your pain is mild go for over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (Aleve and Advil), but for more serious pain get a prescription from your doctor, and possibly a muscle relaxer will help also.

*Go get a massage! This helps pain due to tight muscles, however, if the pain is not in the muscles but rather in the spine, head for the doctor first for his professional advice.

*If you been in pain for 4 weeks or more, physical therapy might be what the doctor will order. The therapist will use a variety of techniques that help with pain, and she will prescribe certain stretching techniques.

*Visit a Chiropracter for a hands on alignment of the spine. Sometimes a Chiropractor's visit is all you will need to get back on the road to health.

*Acupuncture works! If you are interested in alternative therapies, you can find a licensed Acupuncturist at www.nccaom.org

*As a last resort, surgery may be necessary, especially if pain is radiating down the back of the leg, or if you feel weakness on one side. This could mean that the spinal nerves are compressed.

Remember when your mother told you to sit up straight? Well, she was right and wrong. It is good to maintain good posture, but sitting too straight makes your lower back tense up. The best sitting position is one where your lower back retains its natural curve, while your upper back stays straight.

As many people can attest to, back pain can be debilitating, frustrating and distressful. It is good to care about your back, before back problems become an issue. Taking care early on can possibly save you a lot of problems later!

http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/default.htm http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/DS00171 http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/backpain/a/sciatica.htm

By Christine Daniel - I have my first aid and CPR certificate, as well as a certificate in Fitness and nutrition. I also have article 9 training, which is training that focuses on the rights of the handicapped and disabled. I am...  

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