The sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, runs from the lower back and buttocks into the legs. It’s extremely common for people to have issues with the sciatic nerve, including sciatica. However, how aware are you of what sciatica really is? Here are 5 common myths set straight about sciatica.
Myth #1: Sciatica is a medical condition
Fact: Sciatica is not a disease or condition, rather the name of a set of symptoms caused by a spinal condition. Symptoms include pain, numbness in the legs or buttocks, weakness, or a burning or tingling sensation down the leg.
Myth #2: Sciatica is only caused by certain conditions
Fact: Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk, but bone spurs, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, or spinal tumors all can result in sciatica.
Myth #3: If you have leg pain without back pain, it can’t be sciatica
Fact: Most patients with sciatica will have back pain along with leg pain. In rare cases, patients may not experience back pain. Occasionally sciatica can be mistaken for a leg injury, as in the example of Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo. Romo suffered from a herniated disc that caused sciatica, but it was originally thought he had injured his hamstring.
Myth #4: If you have sciatica, you should rest and avoid physical activity
Fact: You should actually try and be as active as possible. Exercise can help relieve your symptoms. If you stay inactive for too long, your back muscles can become weak and lose their strength. Stretching is also a great way to help, such as yoga.
Myth #5: Surgery is the only way to find relief from sciatica
Fact: Most doctors will treat sciatica with nonsurgical methods first. Methods include physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, epidural steroid injections, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine. If these treatments do not work, surgical methods may be suggested.
Source: Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-a-gleiber-md/sciatica-_b_5835418.html