Sciatica is the term given to the pain one feels when the sciatic nerve is pinched. It is a set of symptoms that mainly affect the lumbar spine (lower back), but can spread down the hips, buttocks, thighs, and even calves. Typically, only one branch of the nerve tends to be affected, but there are cases where both sciatic nerve branches are pinched.
The pain that occurs as a result of pinching of the sciatic nerve may become worse when sneezing or coughing, but it may also happen to some people when sitting down. That is because the position of the spine while sitting can aggravate the pressure that is placed on discs in the lumbar spine, which in turn can press against the sciatic nerve, causing or worsening sciatica. In other words, your buttock pain can be caused by sciatica.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs as a result of the sciatic nerve becoming pinched. The pinching can happen due to issues such as:
- A herniated or bulging disc which presses against the nerve itself, irritating it and causing symptoms.
- The growth of a bone spur in the direction of the sciatic nerve, which can also press against it and irritate the nerve.
- Prolonged periods of sitting. If you tend to spend a long time sitting down every day, over time this can affect your lower spine and lead to an alteration in its structure in a way that makes it easier for the sciatic nerve to become pinched.
- Poor posture when sitting, standing or laying down.
- Frequently engaging in activities that strain your lower back, by performing activities such as lifting heavy weights, bending, or twisting the lumbar spine repeatedly.
- Being overweight can place increased strain on your back overall and can pinch your sciatic nerve.
Pain is the main symptoms someone with sciatica may feel. This tends to occur mostly in the lumbar spine, but it can spread to other parts of the lower body, down to the hips, buttocks, and legs. Other symptoms include numbness, weakness or tingling sensations in either one or more than one of these body parts. Some people may, however, not experience any symptoms at all.
In some cases, sciatica may go away on its own with sufficient rest. However, you may also try a few home remedies to ease the pain, before employing more formal treatment options. Some approaches include:
- Staying active. Physical exercise can actually be beneficial in reducing sciatic nerve pain, especially when such exercises focus on strengthening your core and back muscles. Stretching may also be beneficial, as it can also reduce tension along the spine and legs.
- Work with a physical therapist to improve your spinal mobility.
- Maintain or attain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight on your body places additional strain on your spine.
- Avoid sudden and repetitive movements of the spine, to avoid injuring or straining your lower back.
- Improve your posture.
- Wear a support belt that aids your lower spine in standing upright.
- Decompress your spine. Spinal compression is a major reason why sciatica may be triggered. It is oftentimes considered the core issue behind the pinching of the sciatic nerve. As such, reversing this process can be beneficial in alleviating the pain along your spine and buttocks.