Lower back pain is a very common condition among people of all ages, and it comparison article be caused by a number of factors from stress to poor posture, to a more serious condition called sciatica. Lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain often go hand in hand, and many sufferers may be unaware that they are suffering from the condition and may ascribe their lower back pain to something else entirely.
Sciatica is often caused by pressure on the nerves of the spine, which in turn is often caused by a herniated or ruptured disc. While this is the most common cause of sciatica, the condition may also be caused by an inflammation of the sciatic nerve caused by other factors such as irritation from a nearby bone, a tumor, muscle spasms, internal bleeding, an infection, or an injury.
Sciatica is defined as a pain that results from the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The condition is typically characterized by pain that originates from the lower back and extends downward toward the thigh and the knee. This is because the sciatic nerve (which is actually the largest nerve in the human body) stretches from the lumbar spinal cord into the lower back and courses through the buttocks into the lower limbs.
Some of the common symptoms of sciatica are a burning type of pain, numbness and/or tingling in the lower back and the upper buttocks, which may extend down toward the back of the leg. In severe cases, sufferers can find it hard and even impossible to walk. The pain and discomfort may also worsen with walking or bending, while lying down may provide temporary relief.
The presence of sciatica is typically determined by a physical exam and an examination of the patients medical history. In some cases, the patient will be required to undergo an x-ray, CT or MRI scan, or some other type of test in order to determine the cause of the lower back and sciatic nerve pain.
In most cases, the treatment of sciatica has been limited to bed rest, with medication in order to relieve some of the pain. However, the effectiveness of this method has been called into question, with some doubting its therapeutic value. Bed rest as a means to treat lower back and sciatic nerve pain was in fact the subject of a test conducted by researchers at a laboratory in the Netherlands, in which 183 patients suffering from sciatica were assigned to either bed rest or a “watchful waiting” period for two weeks. The results of the test were measured in terms of changes in functional status and pain levels, work absences, and the necessity of surgical intervention. The results showed that 70% of the patients who were assigned to bed rest reported improvement, compared to 65% of the patients assigned to watchful waiting. By the end of 12 weeks, 87% of the test subjects in both groups reported some improvement. This showed that bed rest isnt considerably more effective than doing nothing when cases of lower back pain resulting from sciatica was involved.