I recently decided I wanted to die.
Not because of any deep personal loss or cataclysmic tragedy. My team is 4-0, nothing to be depressed about there, my kids are safe and happy, my bills are mostly paid and my future looks bright. No, the reason for this cloud of termination descending over my psyche is a specific physical ailment – sciatica nerve pain!
Wow, it hurts just to think about it. I spent a week sleeping on an air mattress and what started as a lower backache quickly flared into full blown “someone shoot me with elephant tranquilizer please” pain. Nothing breaks a man down faster than this type of constant tribulation. Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. It goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot. It has been called the closest thing a man can experience to what a woman feels during childbirth, especially back labor. When it flares up it has your full attention!
While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is usually better for relieving sciatic pain than bed rest. Patients may rest for a day or two after their sciatic pain flares up, but after that time period, inactivity will usually make the pain worse.
Without exercise and movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become deconditioned and less able to support the back. The deconditioning and weakening can lead to back injury and strain, which causes additional pain. In addition, active exercise is also important for the health of the spinal discs. Movement helps exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs to keep them healthy and prevent pressure on the sciatic nerve.
A common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome, condition in which the piriformis muscle, located deep in the hip in the buttock region, spasms and causes incredible pain. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight and/or inflamed, it can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve.This is what I experienced.
Stretching the piriformis muscle is almost always necessary to relieve the pain along the sciatic nerve and can be done in several different positions. A number of stretching exercises for the piriformis muscle, hamstring muscles and hip extensor muscles may be used to help decrease the painful symptoms along the sciatic nerve and return range of motion.
Time and stretching seem to be the ultimate cure for this muscle related discomfort. So far for me it has been 3 weeks of struggle. If this persists I might need to call the Vet for a horse pill.