With symptoms like weakness, tingling, and numbness, sciatica can be a real pain.
Although the condition is more common amongst people 40 and older, sciatica can affect anyone and everyone. Stemming from the sciatic nerve, sciatica impacts the whole lower body when it chooses to strike.
As many as 40% of people will get it during their lives, but despite this, information about how to treat the condition remains relatively unspoken.
To get to the root of the issue, we’ve outlined the common causes and symptoms, treatment options, and information around red light therapy for sciatica pain.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition brought on by the sciatic nerve which is the longest nerve in the human body, running from the lower back and down each leg. It occurs when the nerve is pinched or unable to function correctly.
The condition leaves many with numbness, tingling, weakness, a lack of flexibility, and sometimes even the inability to move without intense pain.
There are four main types of sciatica. These include:
Acute sciatica: This is the mildest variant of the medical problem, with most people responding well to simple self-care measures. The pain can resolve or ease in just a couple of weeks.
Chronic sciatica: Unfortunately, this form is infuriating as it’s persistent. Typically, the pain lasts for more than eight weeks, and it doesn’t subside with self-care.
Bilateral sciatica: This targets the legs and occurs in both of them together. This is a rare form of sciatica and may be due to degenerative changes in vertebrae and/or discs at various spine levels or from conditions like cauda equina syndrome.
Alternative sciatica: Unlike the above, this sciatica affects both legs but alternately. Again, this is rare and may be the result of degenerative problems in the sacroiliac joint.
Causes of Sciatica
There are numerous possible causes of sciatica. The most likely include:
- Herniated disc or slipped disc
- Spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots
- Piriformis syndrome: the piriformis muscle is in the buttocks and can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spondyloisthesis, where a vertebra slips forward over an adjacent vertebra, causing compression of the sciatic nerve
- Trauma or injury like a car accident or fall
- Infections such as a spinal epidural abscess
- Spinal tumors which push on the nerve
- Improper lifting techniques
Age is a factor for several of the above, as the spinal discs undergo wear and tear as a normal part of aging.
The symptom can vary in extremities depending on the type of condition and the reasoning behind its onset.
- Pain which is often felt in the lower back, buttocks, or legs
- Muscle weakness in the affected area
- Shooting or burning sensation
- Numbness and tingling
- Reduction in flexibility
- Heightened pain when moving, sneezing, or coughing
Sciatica is referred to by many as a symptom rather than a diagnosis, as the underlying cause needs to be identified to understand what’s gone wrong.
As the nerve is so extensive, the nerve roots along the body can bring on their own range of symptoms. Speaking specifically, here are the symptoms experienced at every level - L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3.
L4 - The first of the sciatic nerve roots, starting at the lower back
Loss of reflex and sensation in the knee or inner calf
Weakness in the thigh and hips
Pain in the thigh, hip, and the inner areas of the knee and calf
L5 - The next nerve root, exiting between the fifth lumbar vertebra
Reduced movement in the ankle and potentially when lifting the toes
Weakness in the buttocks and legs
Loss of sensation between the big toe and the second toe
Pain in the buttock and outer part of the thigh and leg
S1 - This nerve root exits between the last lumbar vertebra and the sacrum
Unable to feel the outer side of the foot and third, fourth, and fifth toes
Weakness in the buttock and feet muscles
Difficulty raising the heel off the ground or walking on tiptoes
S2 - Another sacral nerve root
Numbness in the back of the thigh and possibly the calf or foot
Weakness in the buttocks, posterior thigh, and potentially the calf
Hip and knee muscles are unable to move or function properly
Difficulty when walking, standing, or rising from a seated position
S3 - The S3 exits between the third sacral vertebra and the fourth sacral vertebra
Altered sensation or numbness to the back of the thigh, calf, or foot
Weakness in the buttocks, posterior thigh, and calf
In some cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction can occur. You should seek prompt medical attention if this happens or if concerns around bowel/bladder function are felt.
You should speak to your medical pracitioner if the pain worsens, your symptoms start after a sudden injury, you have severe pain or weakness or numbness, you lose control of your bladder or bowels, or if the pain persists.
Does sciatica pain go away?
If you’re experiencing acute sciatica, this is expected to go away within 4 - 6 weeks. If this continues beyond this time or if the pain is getting progressively worse, contact your medical advisor.
About 30% of people still have noticeable symptoms after a year, and the underlying cause is not always evident. You should speak with your doctor to understand this further.
Frustratingly, sciatica can be recurring - especially if the reasoning behind it goes undiagnosed. In a study of 341 people who sought non-surgical care for a lower back herniated disc, 23% of those with leg pain experienced pain again within a year. 51% experienced pain again within three years.
Making healthy lifestyle choices is usually advised for those struggling - such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, minimizing sitting, having a good posture, lifting correctly, and avoiding smoking.
Using Red Light Therapy To Treat Sciatica
Red light therapy uses specific wavelengths of red or near-infrared light to allow benefits like healing, pain reduction, and the improvement of various health and cosmetic conditions.
Targeted red light therapy usually comes in the form of a device or panels, the former of which is able to focus on specific parts of the body. This means a device can be strapped around the area affected by sciatica so the benefits of light can treat this problem area.
The Science Behind Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy sits in the visible spectrum of light, meaning human eyes can see it. It’s effective for use on the surface of the skin. The typical wavelengths for red light is between 630 nm and 700 nm.
Red light therapy works by using light-emitting diodes to emit photons of light through these wavelengths. When this light is applied to the skin, it triggers multiple processes, which ultimately help the body to heal faster.
This form of light releases nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels, increasing the circulation into the desired area.
These targeted wavelengths of light also stimulate the mitochondria to ramp up energy production and reduce oxidative stress.
Does Red Light Therapy Work on Sciatica?
Sciatica strikes when irritation, inflammation, or pinching affects one or more of the nerves that run down your lower back. When it occurs, further inflammation and swelling can occur in any of the relevant areas.
Red light therapy for sciatica pain exceeds being anti-inflammatory as it increases blood flow to the damaged area, which stimulates cellular function.
It decreases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines too which are the molecules responsible for causing inflammation in the body.
By reducing inflammation, sciatica can be improved - along with your mobility and pain.
The Benefits of Using Red Light Therapy for Sciatica
Non-Invasive and Drug-Free
Red light therapy is completely non-invasive and drug-free. Unlike surgical procedures or pharmaceutical interventions, this therapy doesn’t require any needles, incisions, or medications.
It’s now easily accessible at home thanks to the MOVE+ Pro, so you can harness the power of light to stimulate cellular activity and promote holistic healing from within.
This form of pain management therapy is safer and more comfortable, allowing people to gain results without any of the long and uncomfortable recovery periods that are usually associated with pain treatment.
No Known Side Effects
There are very few risks associated with red light therapy for sciatica pain. When using a device from a trusted company that uses high-quality materials and follows industry standards for safety and efficacy, red light therapy is an incredible alternative to the usual pain management options.
One of the most well-documented benefits of red light therapy is its pain-reducing capabilities.
It promotes the body’s natural pain-killing endorphins, helping you to find prolonged relief without the risk of nasty complications.
While it’s managing your pain, it’s also working to accelerate the healing of any damaged tissues, meaning a faster recovery where possible.
Swelling and inflammation can hinder day-to-day activities more than people give it credit for.
Red light has anti-inflammatory effects on the body as it modulates the activity of immune cells and reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Convenience and Accessibility
Your red light therapy can be administered at home by you. That’s the beauty of it, with the treatment being much more convenient than visiting an expensive medical clinic every day.
You’re in charge of your recovery and are empowered to take back control.
This also fits in well with busy schedules as you can manage the timing and duration of the sessions to fit around your schedule. Just 5-15 minutes every day can provide significant results.
Choosing the Right Red Light Therapy Device
With several devices on the market, choosing the right one for you has never been so important.
As this will be used on your body, trust is key. Read through reviews and testimonials to see how people in the industry perceive the brand and device. These can be found via third-party review sites, on the website, or on social media.
Here at Kineon, the MOVE+ Pro is a medical-grade laser device that is trusted and used by top health experts and professionals worldwide. We have numerous testimonials from dedicated athletes, competitors, nutritionists, and doctors.
We’re passionate about helping you get back to doing what you love and becoming pain-free.
To discover the next generation of laser light technology, check out the MOVE+ Pro today.
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