Health and fitness: Sciatica can be treated, prevented

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By Kent Pegg

Sciatica is a painful condition in the lower back and the legs caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the spinal cord, to the hip area, down the back of each leg and to the feet.

Sciatica isn’t a physical disorder itself but rather a symptom of some other problem. It comes from a compression of the sciatic nerve and causes pain in the lower back and pain or tingling in the legs down to the feet.

Often, the symptom is caused by a herniated disc. Herniated discs can be caused by making sudden twisting motions, trauma or injury, back curvature, weak abdominal muscles, pregnancy, spinal stenosis, spondyloisthesis or piriformis syndrome.

Usually, sciatic pain will go away on its own within four to eight weeks. If the pain is chronic and lasts longer than that or if it interferes with everyday tasks you should consider seeing a physician or other healthcare expert.

Home treatment can also help to alleviate pain caused by sciatica. Initially, cold or ice packs can help with inflammation.

While cold can help with inflammation, heat is usually more effective for pain relief. Try using heat packs for 20 minutes every two hours. Ibuprofen and aspirin can also be taken as directed to help with inflammation.

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