Sciatica isn't mentioned often in the press yet it's very common. The sciatic nerve is the body's longest nerve which starts in the spinal cord and continues in the area of the buttocks, hips and legs. Sciatica is pain that radiates along the entire path of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is connected to the spinal cord and has two functions: To help the leg muscles move and to allow feeling in the legs. Sciatica is nerve pain as a result of injury or irritation to this nerve, which originates in the buttocks area. People who suffer from sciatica may feel a sharp knife-like pain across the affected leg or severe leg cramping.Sciatica usually happens following a herniated disc, which presses on the part of the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back to the foot. It can cause streams of pain, and cramping, and even worsen to the point where it's difficult to walk.
Adele explained to her concert audience that she has trouble moving on stage due to severe sciatica, and she's definitely not alone. Four out of ten people will suffer from sciatica in their lifetime. Sciatica is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50, and those who already suffer from acute or chronic back pain.
Who's at risk for sciatica?
Adele has been suffering from back problems for many years, having suffered two herniated discs, one when she was 15 and the other two years ago. She said that the first herniated disc occurred after she sneezed in bed and the second after her son Angelo, who was eight at the time, jumped up to scare her as she left the bathroom.
Also, Adele also has an extra bone in her spine; most people have five bones in the lower back called lumbar vertebrae, but Adele has six. In many cases the extra bone is harmless, but sometimes it triggers back pain.
Besides herniated discs and other structural changes, people who are classified as obese, smokers or people who don't exercise enough are at higher risk of sciatica. Lifting heavy weights also increases the risk of this pain, as does poor posture and arthritis. Yet in most cases, doctors don't find the cause. Adele said her sciatica usually flares up due to stress or if she's not careful to maintain proper posture.
Often, doctors will advise sciatica sufferers to take painkillers or have a steroid injection around the nerve root causing the pain. In some cases, physical therapy and weight loss are also recommended to alleviate symptoms. Cases of sciatica usually go away within a few weeks, but in cases where they don't, doctors will consider surgery.