The Top 10 Truths Behind The Myths Of Sciatica Pain


Contributed by: Rachana Arya


Sciatica is described as a sharp, radiating pain or numbness along the sciatic nerve — which runs from the lower spine down the backs of the legs — caused by compression of the nerve. The pain of sciatica can range from mild to excruciating, and while you have it, it feels like it’ll never go away. 

Some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • burning or tingling in legs, toes, or feet
  • muscle weakness in your leg and foot
  • weakness and difficulty in walking or performing daily tasks
  • constant pain and discomfort on one side of the body

Despite the fact that sciatica is a debilitating condition and is very common, many people are misled by the myths surrounding it. Here are some of the most prevalent sciatica myths and the truth of the matter for persons with sciatica:


Myth #1: Sciatica is just a condition


No, it’s not a condition in itself. Neither is it a problem or cause. It really is a symptom pointing to some irritation or pressure on the sciatica nerve in the lower back.


Myth #2: Sciatica will go away if you stay in bed and rest


While it may help to rest and use limited movement when sciatica flares up, staying sedentary and inactive could be the worst advice. Many people assume that if they stay away from physical activity, they will find relief from the pain. Studies have confirmed the fact that there is little to no benefit to staying in bed compared with staying active for people with sciatica. While rest may help, excessive rest may lead to weak back muscles that can exacerbate the pain. Walking is an effective approach for relieving sciatic pain as it spurs the release of pain-fighting endorphins and reduces inflammation.


Myth #3: Pain and numbness in legs is the only symptom of sciatica


In severe cases, sciatica may produce troubling symptoms like the inability to control your bowels and/or bladder as well as progressive neurological symptoms, requiring immediate medical treatment.


Myth #4: If it’s leg pain, its sciatica


All pains associated with legs cannot be termed sciatica. For a leg pain to qualify as true sciatica pain, it needs to run from the mid-buttock down the back of the leg, commonly past the knee and down through the calf towards the toe, with or without the sensation of numbness.


Myth #5: Sciatica is caused due to issues in the legs


Because sciatica causes leg discomfort, some people feel it is caused by leg problems. The truth is that sciatica is almost never caused by the legs. It is frequently caused by a spinal problem such as spinal stenosis, tumors, sciatic nerve injury/damage, or spondylolisthesis. In rare cases, a spinal tumor can compress the nerve, triggering the pain of sciatic.


Myth #6: A specific event triggers sciatica


People frequently believe that by avoiding lifting heavy luggage, sitting on a long flight, or assisting a friend in moving, they can avoid sciatica pain. The reality is that the sciatica pain is not necessarily caused by an isolated or, occasionally, repeating event.


Myth #7:  All patients with sciatica have similar symptoms.


People with sciatica will experience a wide range of physical symptoms. The extent of pain depends on severity that can vary, from irritating and intermittent to severe and chronic. Likewise, the duration of the condition can also vary between patients lasting from a few weeks to much longer.


Myth #8: Sciatica pain never goes away.


By practicing excellent posture, minimizing sitting, managing weight, and maintaining good spinal alignment, sciatica can be prevented. With time, rest, and the right therapy, sciatica pain usually goes away. The majority of people who suffer from sciatica will improve without surgery. Maintaining a strong core — that is, strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and back — can prevent the recurrence of sciatica.


Myth #9: Sciatica cannot be prevented


Not all cases of sciatica can be prevented, but maintaining an active lifestyle — and exercising regularly — can go a long way toward reducing the incidence and recurrence of lower back pain. Other therapy options for persons with persistent severe symptoms that don’t respond to analgesics or improve with activity moderation include oral steroids or epidural steroid injections (injections into the epidural area around the spinal cord). Seeking early advice is the key.


Myth #10: Sciatica does not cause permanent damage.


Constant or severe pain may indicate a serious medical condition. If severe cases of Sciatica are left untreated, it can result in irreversible nerve damage, muscle loss and weakness, loss of balance, and inability to walk for an extended period of time.  It may also cause bladder and bowel problems. As a result, it’s critical to have sciatica looked out by a professional as soon as possible.


In closing

You don’t have to do much to find relief from dealing with back pain, buttock pain, or leg pain. If early treatment is sought, sciatica is treatable and one does not need to keep suffering lifelong. It is important to understand that muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories, can only help to temporarily relieve pain and reduce inflammation during the early stages after the onset of symptoms. With proper lifestyle adaptations, the symptoms of sciatica can be kept under control. Thankfully, surgery is only used in the most serious cases. With the correct treatment from a healthcare professional that specializes in sciatica, you can find relief from the core cause — and the symptoms.


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