Sciatica in winter What should you do?
Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the back of your leg to your buttock and to your back, becomes irritated. The irritation may be caused by a herniated disk in your spine, an injury to the nerves, or inflammation.
Sciatica typically causes pain and numbness in the leg and/or buttocks and can also cause shooting pain along one or more legs and discomfort while sitting or standing. According to doctors at Harvard Medical School, colder temperatures are also a major cause of sciatica. It can happen during the winter months due to cold temperatures irritating nerves in the body.Reasons for sciatica pain
There are a number of potential causes for sciatica and pain in the back of the leg. A herniated disk can cause damage to the nerve roots, which may affect sensation and cause sciatica. Other causes include spinal stenosis, ankylosing spondylitis, degenerative disk disease, or a problem with one's piriformis muscle. For some people, sciatica is caused by a slipped disk, which in turn is caused by the shortening of ligaments and tendons around the spine. This causes a change in posture and can be found by doing an X-ray or MRI.Why is sciatica worse in winter?
Colder temperatures cause muscles to tighten and when this happens, it can irritate the sciatic nerve which is close to the surface of the skin. The nerves are being irritated because they are being compressed into a smaller space due to muscle tightening.
A large study conducted by the Research Institute of Work and Health in Sweden and published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health surveyed approximately 135,000 male construction workers. The researchers discovered that those who worked in lower temperatures reported a higher rate of neck and back pain than those working in higher temperatures. The survey in Finland yielded the same result.Exercise therapy for sciatica
Therapy involves the use of stretching and strengthening exercises to alleviate pain along the sciatic nerve. Because exercise can help with decreasing inflammation, it is one of the most effective treatments for patients experiencing chronic pain. Common exercises include muscle relaxation, warm baths, and pelvic floor muscle exercises. These are just some of the common exercises that may be prescribed to relieve chronic pain that has been attributed to sciatica.Important tips
1. Wear warm, comfortable clothing, and dress in multiple layers. A few thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than a single thick layer.
2. Tuck your shirt into your pants so your back doesn't get a cold draft when you pick up something and put on a sweater over it.
3. At night, an electric blanket on your mattress can prevent your muscle tissues from becoming excessively tight.
4. You should keep your house as warm as you can.
5. It is important that you remain in shape during the winter season so that it isn't difficult for your condition, such as sciatica. Think about creating an exercise routine through winter in order to stop gaining weight.
The writer is Chief Consultant, ASPC Manipulation Therapy Center (www.aspc.com.bd).