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#4: No it’s not back pain, it’s sciatica!

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Happy #WomenWednesday! Is your back pain radiating towards buttock and then your legs? Does it worsen with movement especially bending? Well, it not just back pain, it’s sciatica! Sciatica is also one of the most misunderstood back conditions because patients often referred to it as ‘back pain’ even though the pain runs down the back of the legs through the sciatic nerve. Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. It causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.



Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, usually by a herniated disk in your spine or by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) on your vertebrae. But here are the risk factors for sciatica:

  • Age

  • Obesity

  • Occupation

  • Prolonged sitting

  • Diabetes


Call your doctor if self-care measures fail to ease your symptoms or if your pain lasts longer than a week, is severe or becomes progressively worse.

Get immediate medical care if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg

  • The pain follows a violent injury, such as a traffic accident

  • You have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder


It's not always possible to prevent sciatica, and the condition may recur. The following can play a key role in protecting your back:

  • Exercise regularly. To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles.

  • Maintain proper posture when you sit. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base.

  • Use good body mechanics. If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.

  • Cold packs

  • Hot packs

  • Stretching


  • Over-the-counter medications. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are sometimes helpful for sciatica.

Other treatments include:

  • Muscle relaxants

  • Narcotics

  • Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Anti-seizure medications

  • Physical therapy

  • Steroid Injections

  • Surgery


Although most people recover fully from sciatica, often without treatment, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you have: loss of feeling in the affected leg, weakness in the affected leg, and loss of bowel or bladder function


Mayo Clinic

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