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What is sciatica?

Sciatica sounds complicated, but it means nothing more than pain caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve (nervus ischiadicus). The sciatic nerve is a lumbar nerve root in the lower lumbar region. This nerve transmits sensations from the leg to the spinal cord and vice versa, commands from the brain to the leg.

If the sciatica or the nerve root is pinched, it is initially irritated, which can lead to severe inflammation of the nerve in the long term. This is called sciatica or sciatica syndrome.

Sciatica is associated with extreme pain that can radiate or pull from the lower back, through the buttocks and into the leg or even the foot. Sciatica is often equated with Lumbago (lumbago), but this is not correct.

More common than pure sciatica, by the way, is so-called lumboischalgia. This is a combination of lumbago and sciatica. The affected person then feels the back pain from the herniated disc and the back pain from the ischialgia that moves into the leg.

How does sciatica develop?

Probably the most common cause of sciatic nerve irritation is a herniated disc. In a Herniated disc herniation, an intervertebral disc is put under so much pressure that its gelatinous core is pushed outwards by its covering, the fibrous ring. Since intervertebral discs act like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, this damping is suddenly missing. The gelatinous core now presses on the sciatic nerve in the spinal canal, which can lead to inflammation and thus to the pain. But swellings and tumours, circulatory disorders and even shingles can also irritate the sciatica and cause pain.

Sciatica and exercise

Even if immobility and lying down initially bring relief, it is also important in the case of sciatica to move again as soon as possible and to follow your usual daily routine. The same applies here: Resting does harm, because the blood circulation promoted by movement helps the healing process. Physiotherapy and physical therapy as well as regular mobility exercises and exercises to strengthen the lower back help here therapeutically and prophylactically.

Sciatica and sitting

Prolonged, rigid sitting puts strain on the back and can promote slipped discs and ischialgia. Movement helps against both. That is why you should avoid sitting motionless for long periods of time if at all possible. Chairs that promote movement are available today for both the office and the home. All Aeris chairs are specially designed to counteract a lack of movement and make flexible, natural movements possible. Ideal for activating the muscles, strengthening the back - and thus also for preventing sciatica and other back problems.

How long does sciatica last?

Sciatica can last for several weeks. It is therefore important to relieve the pain and the sciatic nerve quickly. Exercises to strengthen the back muscles should be started during convalescence so that acute sciatica does not become chronic.

Individual references

Active Office®: Why offices make us sick and what to do about it, Josef Glöckl and Dieter Breithecker, Springer Gabler Verlag, 2014

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