When looking for exercises for sciatica, it is helpful to know what is causing your sciatica, or if you even have sciatica at all.
"may be misdiagnosed as sciatica"
Many times arthritis in your hip or sacroiliac joint may be incorrectly diagnosed as sciatica. Hip pain from trochanteric bursitis and/or problems with the muscles may be misdiagnosed as sciatica.
Many things can cause lower back pain and leg pain, and many times these are incorrectly called sciatica. If you don't have sciatica, exercises for sciatica, will only prolong the misery
"irritation of the sciatic nerve"
Sciatica is pain and/or other symptoms caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body and it runs from the posterior pelvis through your buttock and into the posterior thigh.
It is formed by the joining of several nerve roots after they exit the spinal canal in your low back. After it passes through the muscles of the buttock and thigh it divides into the smaller nerves that control the lower leg and foot.
"common causes of sciatica"
If the sciatic nerve is irritated anywhere along its course it will cause pain and other symptoms. The most common causes of sciatica would include piriformis sciatica or piriformis syndrome, lumbar spinal stenosis, and disc problems.
Piriformis syndrome may cause sciatica when the piriformis muscle puts pressure directly on the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is one of the muscles that control your hip and the sciatic nerve passes under it.
If the piriformis muscle becomes short and tight or goes into a spasm it can cause pain in the buttock that may radiate into the thigh or up into the low back. The best treatment for this is to keep the piriformis muscle stretched out and well conditioned.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause sciatica when the space for the nerves in the lumbar spine becomes narrowed due to bone spurs from arthritis or overgrown ligaments from a lifetime of bending and lifting.
This may cause pain in the buttock radiating into the thigh and lower leg. It may also cause problems with your bowels and bladder, and/or lower extremity weakness, which are symptoms of cauda equina syndrome.
The treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis that is causing lower back pain and leg pain may include weight loss and exercises for sciatica. Other options would be epidural steroid injections, and surgery to remove the bone that is pressing on the nerves.
Disc problems may cause sciatica because the intervertebral disc lies so very close to where the nerves exit the spinal canal. A bulging disc may place pressure on nerves if the bulge is in the correct place. A disc herniation, may push the inside part of the disc, out into the space for the nerves.
Degenerative disc disease is another disc problem that may cause sciatica because the nerves in the lumbar spine exit the spinal canal between the vertebrae. A healthy disc is the spacer between the vertebrae, and when the disc deteriorates the vertebrae move closer together, squeezing the nerve.
"Other treatment options..."
The treatment options for disc problems may include hyperextension and other exercises for sciatica to help reduce a bulging or herniated disc, surgery to remove disc material that is pressing on a nerve and epidural steroid injections which may shrink soft issues and make more room for the nerves.
Degenerative disc disease that is causing symptoms may be less responsive to exercises for sciatica. Other treatment options could be surgery to make more space for the nerves, or if there is abnormal motion, a lumbar fusion may be required.
Hyperextension Exercises can reduce a bulging or herniated disc.
This one is easy to overdo, so start out gently, and progress slowly.
Piriformis Stretch may be done lying or sitting.
Hamstring Stretches loosen tight hip joints and treat piriformis syndrome.
"other ways to exercise"
Whenever you're dealing with sciatica you must always be alert for signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. If you begin having problems with your bowels and bladder or weakness in your lower extremities you need to be seen by your doctor immediately. You may be at risk for permanent injury and disability.
"you may consider treating this at home"
If your sciatica symptoms are not severe, and you are experiencing no weakness, you may consider treating this at home on your own. However, if your symptoms are more severe or they prevent your normal activities, you need to be seen by your doctor.
He can order the appropriate tests, and give you a definite diagnosis, which is the first step to a speedy recovery.