For months, Marilyn’s father had been complaining about a burning sensation in his right lower back and buttock. In some cases, it was so painful that he could hardly walk. Over the counter pain relievers barely seemed to help, and it was so intense that it prevented him from falling asleep some nights. It didn’t take long for her father’s doctor to figure out what was happening. When Marilyn’s father was diagnosed with sciatica, she wasn’t sure what it was or how she could help.
Fortunately, with a few months of targeted treatment and physical therapy, her father’s sciatica was under control and he was living a more pain-free life.
For many seniors, regular aches and pains may just seem like something to get used to as a result of aging. However, sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched, resulting in a burning pain that can interfere with daily life. Many seniors and family caregivers are not familiar with sciatica, and therefore don’t quite understand what it is, what causes it and how to treat it.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is the inflammation of either or both of the sciatic nerves, which are the body’s largest. They run from the base of the spine, across each buttock and down each leg. Most seniors suffer sciatica on one side of the body or the other, but sometimes both become inflamed. The pain may concentrate in several different spots, such as the lower back, across the buttocks, in the leg and even into the feet and toes. Some seniors experience pain all along the sciatic nerve.
In minor cases of sciatica, elderly people endure pain and discomfort. For more serious cases, they have difficulty walking and are in constant and acute pain. If the pain is bad enough that it affects their mobility, they may become more dependent on family caregivers and senior care assistants to help them perform even the most basic tasks.
What Causes Sciatica?
When the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or pinched, it gets inflamed and triggers the burning pain up and down its length. Often the pinching is due to a herniated disk in the spine, a bone spur or some kind of injury. Other possible causes include diabetes, weakened bones, osteoporosis, compression fractures, or some other traumatic event. Seniors that are afflicted by sciatica are definitely limited physically and endure pain at levels ranging from minor to extreme.
What is the Treatment for Sciatica?
Family caregivers are an integral part in helping aging loved-ones in managing the pain and discomfort of sciatica. Whether the condition has appeared over time or suddenly, the first step is to get a diagnosis from a doctor as well as a treatment plan. Most seniors take anti-inflammatory medicine to help control the pain. Steroid shots can also keep the nerve quiet for a few months.
Most doctors will recommend physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles in the back and legs to better withstand the effects of sciatica. Seniors can also do stretches at home with family members or senior care assistants. In extreme cases of sciatica, surgery may be required to provide relief.
Are you or a loved-one considering homecare in Fairfax, VA,? Please call the caring staff at Medical Professionals On Call today.
Medical Professionals On Call has such a caring, professional staff who are available to step in with whatever level of care necessary for loved ones and to relieve you of that stress.
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