The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body; originating in your lower back, it runs down your legs all the way down to your feet. When this nerve is irritated, the resulting pain can be felt in the entire length of the nerve.

Sciatic pain is one of the many chronic pains that plague the lives of about 18.9 percent of Canadians. Injury or pressure on the sciatic nerve can lead to excruciating pain in the lower back, specifically. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What causes it?

The leading cause of sciatic nerve pain is a herniated disk—often owing to age or sudden movement—that exerts strain on it. Older individuals may experience this pain when their spinal canal begins to narrow, thus putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. This condition, referred to as spinal stenosis, can lead to debilitating pain and may get in the way of your daily life and activities.

What are the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain?

The leading symptom of sciatica is pain that extends from the lower back to the legs, exacerbated by excessive movement. Additionally, some individuals find that sciatic pain is accompanied by feelings of numbness, weakness, and a constant tingling sensation.

The symptoms of sciatica are often mixed up with chronic lower back pain, which is prevalent in people between the ages of 24 and 39, that is experienced by 4.2 percent of people.

How can it be treated?

Normally, sciatica is treated over the span of a few weeks. This can be done through medication to relieve the pain that accompanies it and the application of cold or hot compresses to sooth the region. Studies have found that active treatments have more efficacy as opposed to prevalent passive ones like bed rest and avoiding the activities that exacerbate the problem.

However, alternative treatments have been suggested in countering the debilitating effects of pain in the sciatic nerve. Shockwave therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for pain from nerve damage and leads to a strengthening of muscles and tendons. It does so by directing mechanically generated shockwaves at injured tissue and can lead to the recuperation of regions that are experiencing pain. The regeneration of nerves increases the functional activity and shows significant improvement for the sciatic nerve.

Another alternative treatment that has proven to be useful for pain in the sciatic nerve is biostimulation through low level laser therapy. Its regenerative effect on injured nerves can soothe and alleviate sciatica and other nerve-related aches.

Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute offers a range of services that can alleviate your pain and  provide a treatment that holistically improves your functioning. If you’re looking for shockwave therapy or other regenerative therapies near you, get in touch with us and find out which treatments can be customized to address your concerns.