sciatic nerve cushion advice - Avoid the Top 3 Sciatica Mistakes!
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Avoid the Top 3 Sciatica Mistakes!

Because of pain and a lack of understanding of their condition, sciatica sufferers may make some costly long-term mistakes when it comes to handling their problem.


Exercises for sciatica fall under three main categories: strengthening and stabilizing, stretching, and general conditioning. Including sciatica exercises from all three categories works synergistically to decrease the pressure on the sciatic nerve and can reduce the pain significantly. Many of the suggested exercises for sciatica target the muscles supporting the abdomen, back and torso, commonly referred to as the "core" muscles.


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 sciatic nerve cushion adviceThe intensity and duration of the pain varies with each person, and ranges from an infrequent and slightly irritating sensation to a constant, debilitating pain. It normally affects the lower back and one leg only, but pain may also extend to the feet and toes. Typical "flare-ups" last two weeks to a few months. During these episodes, sufferers have several options for sciatica pain relief.

The third mistake people, including doctors, often make regarding sciatica is to view it as a condition that can be "cured". Because most people continue to engage in the activities that caused the underlying disc problems to develop that produced sciatica in the first place, the vast majority of sciatica sufferers will experience repeated episodes, usually becoming more severe and more frequent over time. This is due to the fact that the disc issues that initially produce the sciatica tend to grow worse over time if they are not managed appropriately. Once again, it is not safe to assume that a resolution of symptoms means that the problem has gone away. In fact, what happens in many cases is that the spine and discs gradually degenerate over time, making the person more and more susceptible to sciatica episodes. Eventually, the degeneration can become so severe that there really is no effective treatment, and many people are left with chronic, debilitating pain.

If pain persists for two to three months and the aforementioned treatments have not worked, surgery may be the most effective solution. Sufferers and their doctors must choose between two surgical procedures performed to relieved the pain of sciatica. These surgeries are elective and effective, relieving 75% to 95% of patients' pain.

The second mistake sciatica sufferers often make is returning to normal activities too quickly once symptoms improve. The vast majority of true sciatica cases are due to bulging or herniation of one or more discs in the lumbar spine, and the inflammation that typically is associated with such disc problems. In many cases, slight improvements in inflammation can result in dramatic symptom improvement. Many sciatica victims mistakenly believe they are back to normal as soon as they feel better, but the reality is that the bulging/herniated disc is far from fully healed, and too much exertion too soon can easily trigger a recurrence of symptoms - sometimes even more severe than they were to begin with. Even professional physical therapists sometimes make the mistake of pushing a patient to do too much too soon, with the result being a return or increase in sciatica symptoms.

At-home remedies such as heat and ice packs often work wonders to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. They should be used in twenty minute intervals every couple of hours for optimum effect. Over-the-counter or prescription medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) may also bring sciatica pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be particularly helpful in reducing inflammation, but can have painful side effects.

The term "sciatica" refers to pain along a specific nerve - the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back down through each leg. It usually caused by a wayward vertebral disc, more commonly referred to as a pinched nerve or a herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc that has shifted from it's normal position in the vertebral column and is putting pressure on the radicular nerve (nerve root), which connects to the sciatic nerve.

If pain is severe, a patient may receive an epidural steroid injection. Steroids are injected directly into the painful area around the nerve and greatly reduce inflammation and pain. These injections are temporary and provide sciatic pain relief anywhere from one week to a year.

About the Author:

Dr. George Best has been treating people with sciatica and piriformis syndrome since 1992. To receive a free ebook on Sciatica Exercises and a video information program on understanding and managing sciatica, visit his website at http://www.sciaticaselfcare.com .

Fortunately, in most cases, sciatica can be managed effectively simply through an awareness of potentially damaging activities and positions and through simple exercises one can do at home. Long-term pain and disability are avoidable, if one makes the necessary effort to perform the necessary exercise regimen on a regular schedule and to avoid movements, activities, and postions that can be damaging to the discs of the spine, such as incorrect bending and lifting, and poor posture (especially sitting posture). Long-term problems can be avoided by putting forth just a small amount of effort to manage sciatica on an ongoing basis over time.

Target specific areas Targeting exercises to the root cause of the sciatic episode will help the condition more quickly. Multiple diagnosed conditions can cause sciatica. For instance, the two most common causes affect two different areas of the body. A herniated disc will compress the sciatic nerve in the lower part of the spine, while in piriformis syndrome the nerve becomes irritated by the tightness of a muscle in the hip flexor region. A trained health practitioner can help the sufferer to develop exercises for sciatica which will most effectively treat the condition.

Why Exercise is Important Many doctors, physical therapists and other health practitioners recommend exercises for sciatica treatment and prevention. While bed rest or inactivity might be advised for the first day or so, extended activity allows the muscles to weaken and the pain can become worse. Sciatica exercises help to strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the back, alleviating the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Exercises for sciatica can also be beneficial in increasing circulation, which in turn provides oxygen and other nutrients to the discs in the spine, keeping them supple and healthy.

Physical therapy and chiropractic care ease the painful symptoms of sciatica and work as correctives to prevent future recurrences of the condition by helping to strengthen and tone the lower back.

The exception to the rule of considering surgery as a last resort is in the rare case of severe neurological compromise known as "cauda equina syndrome", which may be indicated by a loss of bowel and/or bladder control, sudden severe weakness in one or both legs, and/or "saddle anaesthesia" (a loss of sensation in the lower buttocks and inner thighs). Except in the rare instance of cauda equina syndrome though, it is generally better to avoid surgery if possible.

In most people, self care measures is usually recommended a sciatica treatment as this usually responds well. Continuing with your usual activities but avoiding the original factor that aggravated your sciatica pain in the first place will help you to heal more quickly. Even though it seems like a few days of bed rest may provide some relief, any more then this is not a good idea. Inactivity will make your symptoms worse over time. In addition to self care sciatica treatment, try some of the following: Cold Packs: Cold packs help to reduce inflammation and relieve some of the discomfort. In a clean towel, wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas and apply to the affected areas for fifteen to twenty minutes four times per day. Hot Packs: After 48 hours have passed, apply heat to the affected areas. Warm packs or a heating pad on the lowest setting should help to alleviate some of the pain. Try to alternate warm and cold packs if you continue to have pain. Stretching: When stretching initially after your sciatica flare up, stick to passive stretching and avoid jerking motions including bouncing or twisting. Over The Counter Medication: There are two categories of pain killers. The first one only relieves pain. The second type of pain killer relieves pain as well as treats inflammation. These are called Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Products such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen products such as Tylenol can help to relieve sciatica pain. These can provide real pain relief but there is a limit to how much pain can be controlled. This is known as the ceiling effect - exceeding the recommended dosage wont provide better results. Worse though is that these NSAIDS are known to cause side effects in some people such as nausea, stomach bleeding or ulcers. Acetaminophen has been known to cause liver problems if taken in excess. If you use these medications on a regular basis talk to you health care professional so that you can be monitored for problems associated with prolonged usage. If you are exercising, stretching or following another sciatica treatment program you should periodically re-evaluate if you still require these NSAIDS for pain management. Prescription Drugs: A muscle relaxant along with anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed by your health care professional. In some cases of chronic pain anticonvulsant and tricyclic antidepressant drugs may also be prescribed. By blocking the pain messages being sent to your brain or enhancing the bodies production of endorphins, pain symptoms can sometimes be handled this way. Your bodies natural painkillers are called endorphins. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can play an important part in your recovery from a herniated disk. When your condition improves your physical therapist can work with you to help design a rehabilitation program that will help you prevent the same injury in the future. Regular Exercise: When you injure yourself you think that movement or exercise would be counterproductive and all you want to do is just lay down and rest until the pain goes away. The truth is that regular exercise is the best way to combat many ailments, including chronic discomfort. When you exercise your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the chemical that prevent pain signals from reaching your brain and can also help to fight against anxiety and depression. Your pain may be more difficult to control if you suffer from either depression or anxiety.

 
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Examples of Sciatica Exercises In the most acute phase of sciatica, many practitioners recommend only performing exercises to the point of discomfort. Pushing to the point of pain may only cause more injury and further delay healing. An individual may only be able to do the most basic of exercises for sciatica. Three of the most common exercises recommended for this phase are the pelvic tilt, lying prone, and hugging one or both knees to the chest. The pelvic tilt is performed lying on the back with the knees bent and contracting the abdominal muscles. Lying prone can be as simple as lying on the stomach with a pillow supporting the hips. Once there is more improvement, the head and torso can be lifted as well. The last exercise is done while lying on the back and bending the knee to the chest. All of these exercises for sciatica should be done carefully and only if there is no pain.

Prevent Future Episodes Once the pain has significantly subsided, many different types of sciatica exercises can help to further treat and prevent future episodes. Pilates, a program designed by Joseph H. Pilates, targets the core muscles through specific body and breathing exercises. Yoga is another discipline which helps to strengthen and stretch the muscles and spine. Physical therapists often have their patients perform exercises on a big balance ball. Keeping the ball stable works the core muscles that support the spine. Other exercises for sciatica can include swimming, walking and other low impact aerobic movements. Minimizing recurrences of sciatica can be as simple as doing exercises for sciatica on daily basis.

In most circumstances conservative sciatica treatment is tried for three to six months. When conservative sciatica treatment fails to alleviate your pain more aggressive sciatica treatment options are usually attempted. Epidural Steroid Injections: An injection of a corticosteroid medication to the affected area may be helpful in some instances. If taken in doses that exceed your natural levels, inflammation is suppressed relieving painful symptoms caused by the pressure of the inflammation. Most effective when used in conjunction with a sciatica treatment rehabilitation program. Because of the serious side effects that corticosteroid injections can cause, the number of injections you can receive in a year is usually limited to no more then three. Surgery: Surgery is most often a last resort and left until the compressed nerve causes significant weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or if the pain itself is progressing and conventional sciatica treatment is not working. Most often surgery is preformed as a sciatica treatment to remove a portion of a herniated disk that is pressing on a nerve. The goal is to preserve as mush of the normal anatomy as possible, leaving as much of the disk intact as possible.

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The first mistake is rushing into a surgery. Although the vast majority of surgeons are not anxious to perform surgery on sciatica cases, there are a few who do recommend surgical treatment right from the start, and without even attempting any other type of treatment. Sciatica resolves in approximately 80% of cases without surgery. Even when surgery is successful initially, the development of scar tissue and abnormal mechanical stresses on the spine adjacent to the surgery often lead to future problems. Given that low back spine surgery overall has about a 50% long-term success rate and people treated surgically often wind up worse than they were prior to surgery, it should be reserved as a treatment of last resort.

Learn more about SciaticaGuide.comexercises for sciatica and treatment methods at our free resource: SciaticaGuide.com


Julian P. Porter

 
 
     
 
 





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