Sciatica is a term that refers to pain that presents along the route which your sciatic nerve travels through your body. This nerve branches away from your lower lumbar through the hips as well as buttocks then down each of your legs. It is usually the case that sciatica affects only a single side of your body.
Your sciatic nerve is a part of a much larger system which allows your body to communicate with your brain. This is your central nervous system. It is responsible for carrying signals to and from your brain which coordinates the function of your entire body as well as alerting you to damage. When there is damage to bone or tissue in your body a signal is sent to your brain which you may recognize as pain. There are two types of pain, acute and chronic. Acute pain is sudden and subsides after a period of time. Chronic pain is lasting.
Your back plays a major role in both the protection and path of your spinal cord and nerve fibers which once in your lower lumbar branch out to form the nerves that extend into your legs and feet. When something goes wrong at any point in your vertebral column or pelvis it could lead to a pinching or even damage to the nerves in your body. When there is pressure on or damage to your sciatic nerve it can present with symptoms such as:
- Numbness, weakness, or trouble moving your foot, toes, or leg
- Pain that worsens when in a seated position
- Sharp pain which makes it harder to maintain a standing position or walk
- Pain which shoots down your leg and potentially into your foot and sometimes toes
- Consistent pain in just one side of your butt or leg (this rarely presents in both of your legs)
- Pain in your leg that you may describe as tingling, searing, or burning (compared to a dull aching)
You may think that exercising with sciatic pain is counterintuitive, however, it can actually help to relieve it as well as get essential fluids moving. This exchange of fluids can provide your spinal discs with proper fluids and nutrients to maintain their health while preventing unnecessary pressure on your sciatic nerve.
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