Your nervous system is a collection of nerves that your brain uses to send signals throughout your entire body. This communication network allows your body to control essential processes without conscious thinking, such as blood pressure maintenance. This aspect is known as the autonomic process of your nervous system.
On the other hand, certain nerves are responsible for voluntary movement, which allows you to control your muscles to do important tasks such as walking, running and eating.1
The Importance of Your Sciatic Nerve
One of the most essential nerves in your body is the sciatic nerve, which starts from your lower spine and travels down to each leg, and ends at each foot. It is unique because it is a combination of sensory and motor neurons. This means that aside from sensing through the skin, it helps move your legs as well.2
Therefore, any problems in your spine that directly affects the sciatic nerve can lead to a host of problems, most notably sciatica, a condition marked by pain in one side of the lower back, buttocks and legs.3 Certain actions that cause pressure in your body to rise, such as sneezing, can worsen the pain. In more severe cases, the nerve can lose its ability to move muscles, resulting in muscle weakness and even trouble controlling your bowels and urination.4
5 Common Misconceptions About Sciatica
Due to the fact that sciatica is often associated with lower back pain, it’s no surprise that the disease is commonly misunderstood. It’s better to be aware of what sciatica actually is before you make a mistake in treatment. If you’ve read any of these myths before, it’s time to know the truth about them:5
• Sciatica is a disease: In reality, sciatica is a collection of symptoms, not an actual disease in itself. Your doctor will need to look for the underlying condition to treat the source of the sciatic pain. You may visit the Causes page to learn where sciatica actually comes from.
• Sciatica is commonly caused by a slipped disc: This is only party true, because there are other circumstances that can lead to sciatica. These include lumbar degenerative disc disease, trauma, lumbar spinal stenosis and tumors.
• All treatments for sciatica are the same: Even though sciatica generally causes pain in your lower back and thighs, the cause may not be the same for patients. Therefore, your doctor must carefully diagnose the underlying condition to help alleviate your sciatic pain correctly.
• Surgery should be your first treatment option: It’s recommended to try and treat sciatica with various home remedies, alongside stretching and strengthening exercise. The only time surgery is considered is when noninvasive treatments have proven to be ineffective and severe loss of muscle functions has occurred.
• Sciatica is hereditary: There’s a chance that you may develop sciatica if your parents had it.6 But more often than not, sciatica can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of their family’s health history.7
Learn What Sciatica Really Is and How You Can Treat It Effectively
In this guide, learn how to detect sciatica, how it occurs and how you can treat it safely. There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there regarding this condition, so it’s better to be wisely informed before you make any potentially harmful decisions.