About 5-10% of people with low back will suffer from sciatica. As much as 70% of the population will deal with low back pain during their lifetime.
Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, sciatica is not very well understood. Even those who suffer from it don’t always realize that the source of their pain is something different than regular back pain.
Could sciatica be the cause of your back pain? Read on to learn common symptoms and what you can do about it.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerves are the two largest nerves in the body. Many nerves are tiny, only about 20 microns or 0.02 mm in thickness. The sciatic nerves, however, are about the size of your little finger.
They split off from the bottom of the spinal cord. One goes down each leg, running from the spinal cord to your big toes.
Sciatic pain occurs when something pinches one of the sciatic nerves. For this reason, most people experience pain on only one side of the body. Of course, this depends on what is causing the pinching in the first place.
Typical sciatic pain begins in the lower part of the spine and goes to the buttock. Pain radiating down the affected leg is also quite common.
Since the sciatic nerve runs all the way down to the big toe, you can experience pain anywhere along its trajectory, although along the back of the thigh and the calf are most common.
People experience sciatic pain differently. Some describe it as a dull ache, others as a sharp, burning sensation or throbbing heat. Still, others experience excruciating pain that inhibits their ability to walk or even stand.
Sometimes it comes on quickly and people experience a jolt or shock of pain. Tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness are also common symptoms.
Sitting for long periods of time can worsen the symptoms.
In severe cases, patients can experience problems like loss of bladder control or complete loss of feeling in the affected leg. If this happens, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
There are various ways that the nerve can get pinched.
A herniated disc in the spine is a common culprit. The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned by a series of tough discs. These act as shock absorbers for the spine and ensure that the bones don’t rub against one another.
These discs can get pushed out of place. This can happen as a result of a forceful injury, like being in a car accident. The ligaments holding the disc in place also weaken with age, meaning that a relatively minor event, like twisting wrong, can also cause displacement.
The displaced disc, in turn, pushes on the nerve and causes pain.
Osteoarthritis can be another culprit. The disease can cause the root opening through which the nerves travel to become smaller, thus compressing and damaging the nerves.
Inflammation, spinal degeneration, and bone spurs on the vertebrae can also be the cause.
Several common factors indicate whether you could be at risk for sciatica. These include:
- Age: Because of the degenerative effect of aging on the spine, older people are at a higher risk of herniated discs and bone spurs.
- Being Sedentary: Sitting for long periods of time can contribute to nerve compression and lead to sciatica.
- Diabetes: Because of the effect of blood sugar on the body in people with diabetes, they are at a higher risk of nerve damage.
- Obesity: Extra weight puts more stress on the spine, which can cause changes in the spine that lead to sciatic pain.
You can’t do much about getting older, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t lower your risk of sciatica in other ways.
If you work at a desk, take frequent breaks to get up and move throughout the day. A simple trip to the water cooler can help. Giving your brain a break can even make you more productive.
Incorporate a few stretches at your desk and ensure that you are using the proper ergonomic equipment. Being more active will also help you lose any extra pounds that may be slowly damaging your spine.
If you have diabetes, you should already be paying close attention to your blood sugar. Doing your best to avoid unnecessary highs and lows can help prevent sciatic pain.
Most cases of sciatica go away on their own. Some people experience just a few episodes and then the pain disappears. Others struggle with episodes over a period of months.
The type of pain you experience is directly related to the root cause of your sciatica.
To treat the symptoms, you can take over the counter painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). Icing the area can also help to bring down any inflammation that may be causing the compression.
Mild stretching and low-impact exercises are excellent for treating sciatic pain. Because of the pain, some people cease all physical activity, fearing they will make it worse. While a little rest can help, being too sedentary can worsen symptoms.
Instead, focus on gentle stretches and mild exercise. Check out more from the Stretching Institute for some great ideas of exercises that you can try.
Your doctor may recommend trying steroid shots or pills if the pain is persistent. However, steroids are only effective for some people.
Living Life Pain-Free
The good news is that most people will only have to manage sciatica pain for a short while. Many issues resolve on their own or by making some lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, the pain can be controlled with exercises and stretches, heat or ice treatments, and mild pain medication.
Self-Care Strategies to Help Stay Healthy This Holiday Season
With the COVID-19 pandemic added to the typical cold and flu season, many are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and others this holiday season and how to respond if they get sick.
“As we enter this cold and flu season, it’s so important to practice self-care,” said Dr. Ian Smith, a physician, best-selling author and host of “The Doctors.” “Key preventative measures like washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze can be extremely effective in preventing the spread of germs. With COVID-19 also in the picture, there are a lot of questions on everyone’s mind around how to stay healthy and correctly identify and treat symptoms of the cold and flu or COVID-19.”
Flu vs. Covid-19
If you get sick this season, your first question will likely be whether it’s the flu or COVID-19. Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19, like fever and cough, are similar, making it difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be required for a proper diagnosis. If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or about COVID-19, consult your health care professional.
Cold And Flu Treatment
For the common cold or flu, there are a variety of products available that contain several active ingredients commonly used to treat symptoms of respiratory viral infections.
For example, Mucinex DM contains dextromethorphan, which helps to control cough and guaifenesin to help thin and loosen mucus and lasts 12 hours when used as directed. You can identify the right formula to provide relief based on symptoms you are experiencing by using the online tool at Mucinex.com, where you can also find more information regarding self-care remedies.
Surrey Hospitals Foundation Invests in Research with Prestigious Funding from Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Investment includes funding COVID-19 clinical research team and study on a virtual rehabilitation clinic
Photo: A healthcare worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ICU unit
Surrey, B.C. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is supporting COVID-19 medical research in Surrey with an investment of $150,000, and has received a prestigious $150,000 matching grant from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). The combined funds will go towards enhancing COVID-19 research initiatives and capacity to advance innovative life-saving protocols and interventions in Surrey.
The funding enables the hiring of an essential research team including a Clinical Research Coordinator, Clinical Research Nurse, and a Clinical Research Assistant at Surrey Memorial Hospital, headed by Clinical Research Lead Christopher Condin, under the guidance of Kate Keetch, Director of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health.
With original seed funding of $25,000 from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, the Surrey Hospitals Foundation is also helping fund a COVID-19 research study on the viability of a virtual rehabilitation clinic.
“We are facing a healthcare crisis with COVID-19 and it is absolutely critical for us to invest in COVID-19 research to improve the health outcomes of patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for this timely grant and we are proud to support COVID-19 research initiatives and the establishment of this COVID clinical research team in Surrey.”
Dr. Greg Haljan is the head of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s critical care department and is also the Regional Medical Director of Research for Fraser Health. He will be leading the COVID-19 research study to examine whether a multi-disciplinary virtual recovery program providing pulmonary rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors improves rehospitalization, patient quality of life and health outcomes.
He hopes to launch a COVID-19 virtual rehabilitation program at Surrey Memorial Hospital led by critical care physicians and experts. It has the potential to transform outcomes both during recovery from the pandemic and beyond, and to create measurable improvements in the quality of patients’ lives by extending the impact and reach of physiotherapy services and post-discharge care.
“Research has shown that 17 per cent survivors of similar critical illnesses, including SARS and influenza etc., are re-admitted to hospital within one month of discharge, 30 per cent by three months and 40 per cent by six months, and COVID-19 numbers could be very similar,” says Dr. Greg Haljan, Head of the Department of Critical Care at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Regional Medical Director for Research for Fraser Health. “We need to prevent the onset of COVID-19 hospital re-admissions by developing a patient-centric, virtual critical care rehabilitation program led by critical care physicians and experts.”
“In the midst of this second wave of COVID-19, and given that Fraser Health has the highest number of cases, it is essential that we build up our COVID-19 research capacity so that we can contribute to vital evidence-based knowledge needed to combat the pandemic,” says Dr. Kate Keetch, Director, Department of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health. “Our critical care physicians, including Dr. Haljan, are the most experienced in COVID-19 treatment and care, and helping support them to do cutting-edge, patient-centred research and knowledge translation as part of their clinical care, is why I head into work every morning.”
Previous research indicates that early mobility and rehabilitation, after being discharged from hospital, reduce mortality and acute care utilization in multiple critical illness survivor cohorts. Even 14 days of quarantine without hospitalization impacts fitness and mobility. Pulmonary rehabilitation improves the full spectrum of cardiopulmonary, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and mental health domains, including surprisingly, depression, anxiety and cognition.
For more information on how the Surrey Hospitals Foundation continues to support research and innovation, as well as their current Children’s Health Centre and Surgical Centre campaigns, visit https://surreyhospitalsfoundation.com.
About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:
Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities. The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.
The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs. https://surreyhospitalsfoundation.com
How to Remain Fit and Healthy Amid the COVID-19? A Brief by EJ Dalius
The things that are good for your heart are naturally good for your mind. In light of this, breaking sweat regularly boosts brain health in many ways. Exercise associates with an improvement in cognition rates, including better memory, executive function, and attention.
Moreover, due to aging people are in the vulnerable group forcontacting of the virus.The physical activities of many older adults have entirely stopped which is not good for them. Eric Dalius suggests getting sedentary with the usual lifestyle, and ignoring exercise entirely is a negative step towards remaining fit and healthy.
Exercise and the Brain Functioning
Physical activity is also known to slow down age-related cognitive reduction. With age, a person becomes susceptible to losing memory and thinking skills. In older adults, it aids in retaining the current cognitive function; in your spare time, you can perform a few simple activities. Every activity that increases the physical count can ward off the sedentary lifestyle, making us healthy.
Consult a Professional
Older adults can consult a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise routine. With conditions such as heart diseases and hypertension, the medical professional will help you decide on a safe yet effective practice that can attune your fitness levels and your ultimate goals of staying fit.
Due to several restrictions, many telehealth consultation facilities are available, and EJ Dalius recommends leveraging such moves without physically going to the health center. Several entrepreneurs have rendered their help for the wellbeing of the people, and are incorporating innovative techniques to combat such uncertain times.
When to Start?
Eric J Dalius states that many exercise guidelines public and private authorities publish state that adults should shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 70-75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. Ideally speaking, the moderate and vigorous-intensity workouts should spread across many days or on alternate days for the body to recover.
- Examine your schedule and try to remove at least half an hour initially for the workout. It is wise to keep a fixed timing every day, helping better in regularizing your routine.
- Start with simple exercises and eventually get your hands on the tough ones. Remember that exercises can do wonders; therefore, it is never too late to start exercising as everyone benefits from doing some physical activity.
- You can also opt for walking down the stairs, swimming, gardening, biking, and dancing. Such activities interest a person and can result in targeting two goals at one time.
- Activities, such as Zumba, are energizing and can act as a much-needed break from your hassle-loaded routine.
- For older adults, simple exercises for joints and bones are essential.
Most of us always have the excuse of not having time in hand to pursue a regular exercise routine. However, a simple walk of fifteen minutes is better than no exertion at all. Take baby steps to compile exercise into your daily routine.
Put Your Back In to It!: How to Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Your back is home to 140 muscles that connect to the rest of your body. That makes your back a central component to whole-body wellness and strength.
If you want to feel strong and have an effective workout, then you must start with a sturdy core and proper posture. This will also reduce stress on your body that causes chronic back, neck, shoulder, and even limb pain.
Use these exercise, stretches, and good habit tips to build your back muscles and start feeling and looking like a new healthy person.
Start With Your Posture
Most people work all day at a desk, commute while sitting in a car and continue to sit at home watching TV or socializing online. That’s a lot of sitting and more opportunities to slouch.
If the muscles of the back aren’t inline then they are putting pressure on your organs, joints, and connecting muscles.
Recognizing your bad posture habits is the first step to understanding the importance of your back. It can affect your whole body in the long-term as it can lead to arthritis and chronic back pain.
So, whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down remember to keep your back straight. This will help with the following exercises and stretches.
Finding the right physical therapist can also help improve your posture through an assessment of your back pain. But, not all therapy is equal. Discover more here to find the proper help you need.
You may think that stretching is only good for back pain, but it can also be a preventative measure. It keeps your back flexible, which helps in everyday activities like bending, lifting, and reaching while making your back stronger.
Try these stretches to keep your back limber.
Lying Lower Back Twist
Lie on your back using a mat. Use your right hand to grab your left knee and pull it across your lower torso toward the floor.
Keep your opposite arm elongated and stretched perpendicular to your back. Your shoulders should continue to touch the floor. Look toward your opposite arm by turning your head.
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, focusing on lower right back pain. Then slowly come back to the center. Repeat using your left arm and right knee.
Knee to Chest
This stretch uses your legs to lengthen the lower back muscles. It also pulls the pelvis away from the muscles, giving them room to breathe.
Lie on your back with your knee bent and your feet flat on the floor. Use both hands to pull your one knee at a time toward your chest. You can keep your head flat on the floor or bring your forehead to your knee for a deeper stretch.
Hold for 20 seconds before switching knees. Repeat as needed.
You may have seen this stretch in your yoga class. This pose does wonders for middle back pain while strengthening your stomach, shoulders, neck, and of course your whole back.
Lie on your stomach with your palms down close to your ribs. Slowly use your arms to push your chest up while lifting your head toward the ceiling.
Arch your back slowly and to the point where it is comfortable. Your arms will extend as much as possible as you rise to your comfort zone. Hold for as long as you like without any pain.
Stretching prepares your back for more strenuous movements. While stretching gives you more flexibility, back exercises offer you increased strength through gaining mass.
Use these exercises to build back muscle.
Lifting Legs Laterally
Since your back is supported by your pelvis, strengthening your hips can offer grounding stability for back muscles.
Lie on your side with your bottom arm bent and your head rested in your palm. Keep your legs straight and your hips in line with your torso.
Slowly raise your leg about a foot from the ground. Be sure to keep your abdomen tight and your leg straight. Hold the leg in the air for a few seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground.
Do as many repetitions as desired until your leg feels like it can lift no more. Switch to the other side and repeat.
Relieve upper back pain while strengthening muscles along the spine in this exercise. This will improve your posture and build a stronger core along your spine and pelvis.
Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you. Keep your legs together and straight.
Lift both arms while keeping your head facing the floor. Slowly raise your legs at the same time. Raise your limbs as high as is comfortable.
Try to bring your chest and eventually your stomach off the floor to slightly arch the back.
Hold this position for several seconds and release. Repeat the exercise as desired.
Plank Arm Raises
Shoulder pain is a direct cause of weak back muscles. By working out your shoulder blades and the muscles in between, the posture of your upper back will improve.
Get into a plank position by lying on your stomach and lifting your body by extending your arms. Your arms should be straight with your elbows locked. And your hands should be in line with your shoulders.
You should be on the tips of your toes with your legs hip-width apart.
Lift one arm at a time toward your chest with the elbow close to your ribs. Alternate moving each arm up and back down to the floor.
Do 8 to 10 reps at a time while taking deep breaths as you go up and down.
Strong Back Muscles Prevent Injury and Illness
Having strong back muscles can keep your whole body free from harm. Better posture will take pressure off of your organs and improve circulation while making you more flexible.
Living with MS: 5 Tips For Dealing With Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an intensely painful neurological condition that affects over 2.3 million people across the globe.
The pain from MS can keep you from doing the things you love the most and spending time with those you care about. But an MS diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to be a shut-in for the rest of your life.
Living with MS gets far easier once you learn how to manage it. Here are five tips to help you start your journey.
1. Educate Yourself
Learning that you have MS can be scary, to say the least. But as the saying goes, knowledge is power.
By learning about the disorder, you can get a better sense of what you can expect. Dive into every (well-sourced) book, article, and journal you can find that deals with MS and soak up as much info as you can.
The good news is that you’re already off to a good start. By reading this article you’re increasing your chances of a happy, healthy life!
2. Stay Cool
Bad news for those who live in a high-temperature area or love the heat: Heat tends to worsen MS symptoms by a considerable amount.
While heat doesn’t bring on any new symptoms, it does heighten the effects of pre-existing issues like fatigue, headaches, and mental fogginess.
Fortunately, heat tends to be easy enough to counteract. Keep your home A/C set to a comfortable temperature and invest in cooling aids like gel packs and light clothing.
3. Lean on Your Professional Support System
You already know that your friends and family care about your well-being. But don’t forget that you have a whole professional network of experts that care about you, too!
Great multiple sclerosis services aim to understand what you’re going through. Your doctors and physical therapists will do their best to ease your pain and provide helpful advice. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give them a call.
4. Do Your Best to Say Active
When your MS is acting up, hitting the gym is the absolute last thing you want to do. Still, research indicates that maintaining an active lifestyle can keep the pain associated with MS at bay.
Go easy on yourself. You don’t need to run a marathon to stay active. A simple walk around the block a few times per week is more than sufficient.
5. Stay Well-Rested
The fatigue that comes with MS is bad enough as it is. But when you consider how MS causes a whole array of sleep issues, it can seem as though there’s no winning.
While you can’t offset all of your fatigue, you can minimize it by taking a few simple steps.
For starters, go to bed and wake up at the same time each night. A regular sleep schedule can improve the overall quality of your rest.
And if you’re struggling with muscle pain, tell your doctor. You may need medication to help relax your muscles.
Final Thoughts on Living With MS
Living with MS can feel downright impossible at times. But don’t give up. By following these five tips, you can improve your quality of life and help keep your MS at bay.
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