Sciatica pain can affect the body from lower back to calves, creating a dull, nagging pain or sharp, debilitating pain that makes it impossible to move. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the lower spine down the back of the leg into each toe. If it becomes inflamed or irritated, the pain can manifest in any part of the lower half of the body. It is most often caused by a herniated disc or other spinal condition.
Recognizing Sciatica Pain
Since the sciatic nerve extends over such a large part of the body and affects a variety of body systems, it is unsurprising sciatica pain is often described differently from person to person. Some people with sciatica pain report sharp pains that originate in the lower back and travel into the legs and feet. Numbness and tingling are often reported with this type of pain. Others report a throbbing ache, either localized or general, centered on any part of the lower body.
Calf soreness is common, but often misdiagnosed, causing a delay in proper treatment. Sciatica should be considered as a possible cause of calf pain that does not go away within a reasonable period of time for a sprain to heal. If the pain is severe, see a doctor for aggressive treatment.
Once it has been determined that sciatica is the source of your calf pain, take several steps to reduce immediate inflammation and prevent future problems. Over-the counter-medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin can help heal the inflammation and relieve the pain.
Physical Calf Treatment
The most common physical recommendation for sciatica is yoga. Yoga stretches the body and improves flexibility and strength, achieving long-term relief. It is not an immediate cure, this method will take time and patience to produce significant benefits.
Practicing yoga for pain relief addresses three key issues, the irritation to the nerve itself, proper alignment of muscles, and muscle conditioning to strengthen those muscles to prevent further injury. It may take six months to a year to completely heal this type of injury using yoga, but the benefits are numerous. In addition to pain relief and prevention, yoga increases blood flow and overall health and well-being, and can result in decreased chance of heart disease, mental degeneration and physical ability as you age.
Vertebral axial decompression (VAX-D) is a traditional form of treatment involves the use of a traction table to separate the plates of the spinal vertebrae, allowing a compressed disc to return to its position.
There is also a very new kind of therapy, intro discal electrothermy, or IDET, that heats up the disc to dry it out. When a disc becomes herniated, it swells with water and presses on the nerve. Natural drying of the disc might take months, but IDET takes only about 15 minutes.
The last resort is a surgery to remove or repair sections of the herniated disc, but this kind of surgery can have unexpected results and is not recommended in most cases.