People of all ages can develop sciatica, but seniors are especially prone to the burning pain of the pinched sciatic nerve. In some people, the pain is mild and manageable, but for others, sciatica can lead to almost complete immobilization. Family caregivers that are assisting elderly loved-ones that are affected by sciatica will benefit from learning more about the condition and what must be done to treat it.
Here are 6 things that family caregivers should know about sciatica in their elderly loved-ones:
1. The Sciatic Nerve is the Largest in the Body
The sciatic nerve starts at the base of the spine and runs down the back of each leg. When the nerve is pinched or pressed, it can create a burning or tingling feeling at any point along the nerve. Whether it’s infrequent irritation or constant pain, sciatic nerve pain definitely affects the daily life of elderly people.
2. Sciatica Has Several Causes
There are a number of things that can trigger sciatica, including a herniated disc, degenerative disc conditions, slipped vertebra, muscle spasms and more. Other conditions that can contribute to the severity of sciatica include being sedentary, obesity, diabetes, poor quality mattress and lack of exercise and muscle tone.
3. Usually, Sciatica is One-Sided
Even though the sciatic nerve goes down both legs, most people are only bothered on one side. Pain can manifest anywhere from the lower back to the hip, the buttock, to the back side of the leg and all the way down to the foot in some cases. People describe the pain as burning or shooting, and it can be sporadic or constant. It becomes especially painful when sitting down or standing up.
4. Steroid Injections May Help
One of the treatments for sciatica is a steroid injection to reduce inflammation. The injection is made directly into the area close to the sciatic nerve to reduce pain. The effects are temporary and last anywhere from a few months to a year. They cannot be given too frequently due to a range of negative side effects.
5. Physical Therapy Helps
Most doctors will recommend physical therapy for sciatica and seniors can experience a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility when they attend regularly. The exercises focus on strengthening existing muscles to better support the spine and stretch tight muscles. Once seniors learn different stretches and exercises, they may be able to do them at home with help from family or senior care assistants.
6. Surgery in Extreme Cases
Some seniors are affected so severely with sciatica that they no longer control their bowels and bladder. They must rely on family caregivers or senior care assistants for all but the most basic tasks. In these cases, or in cases of acute pain, some doctors recommend surgery to try to alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Family caregivers need to remember that not every kind of back or leg pain is sciatica. If they suspect their elderly loved-ones are suffering, the best thing to do is get a true diagnosis from a doctor and then work out a treatment plan that is best for their aging loved-ones.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering homecare in Winchester City, VA, please contact the caring staff at LivinRite Home Care.
Call Us Today at (703) 634-9991.
Serving Northern Virginia, The Valley, and Surrounding Communities.
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