Sciatica pain

Sciatica is a pain felt in the buttock and down the back of one leg, which occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or damaged. It is a common problem with most people experiencing it at least once during their life. The left and right sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body and run from the base of the spine, one down the back of each leg where they divide above the knee into branches that supply the lower leg and foot. Usually, sciatica only affects one leg, but in more serious lower back injuries, it may be bilateral.

Sciatica causes mild to severe pain felt in the buttock and/or down a leg. Pain may be continuous, or recurrent and is made worse by moving or coughing. Pain may be accompanied by tingling, skin numbness or muscle weakness and, if compression or injury to the sciatic nerve(s) is severe, you may be unable to life your foot on the affected side, or even to stand upright or walk. The usual
cause of sciatica in those aged 20 to 40 years is a prolapsed (slipped) intervertebral disc which presses on the root of the sciatic nerve where it joins the spinal cord. Often, the cause of sciatica remain unknown, but latest research suggests some cases may be catching - scientists believe they have found evidence that shows that sciatica can develop from a bacterial infection. More than half of those studied were infected with a micro-organism that also causes acne. Causes most cases of sciatica are due to a slipped disc. Other possible causes include:

* A slipped vertebral bone (spondylolisthesis)

* A osteoarthritis (in which bone spurs may develop on vertebrae)

* A growth such as a spinal tumour and abscess

* Blood clot

* An injury (eg fractured pelvis)

* Muscle spasm which increases pressure around the nerve such as when sitting in an awkward position for a prolonged period of time (eg travelling in cramped conditions)

* Postural changes occurring during pregnancy

* A neurological disorder.

Self help measures:

If you suspect you have sciatica, you should always seek medical advice for a full neurological examination of the legs and, if necessary, medical investigations and treatment.

Applying magnetic patches

Magnetic patches can be used to hasten healing and reduce discomfort and can complement any treatment your doctor feels is necessary. Apply magnetic patches on either side of the lower spine âÄì either over an area of pain or tenderness in the back, or in the small of the back. These can be aligned to form two rows of between one and four patches on each side, depending on the severity of the pain. At the back of the leg, apply another patch to the top of the affected thigh in the midline, just below the buttock, and another patch in the centre of the back of the knee.

Magnetic patches can also be applied to acupuncture points over or near the site of pain, as shown on the previous page. Select the points which most closely relate to the site of discomfort.

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