Back Pain and Sciatica

Back pain may be caused by a range of issues. It can occur from nowhere or be caused by anything from a specific trauma or injury to arthritis. Back pain can occur at any age but more commonly in people aged between forty and fifty-five years old. Pain can spread down to the back to the legs also, disguising itself as Sciatica.

What are the symptoms?

Sciatica has its own symptoms which are usually present in the bottom, legs and feet. These can include:

  • Shooting pains, stabbing and/or burning sensations
  • Pins and needles and/or tingling
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

These particular symptoms will usually be present alongside back pain and can even become worse than the back pain itself. If you are only experiencing back pain, it's likely not sciatica.

Cause and treatment

Sciatica occurs when something presses or rubs on the sciatic nerve. The condition can be caused by a number of different things, including:

  • A slipped disc. When the soft tissue between the bones in the spine pushes out
  • Spinal Stenosis. The narrowing of the part ofthe spine where nerves pass through
  • Spondylolisthesis. When one of the bones in your spine slips out of position
  • An alternative back injury

Some activities and behavioural practices, such as unsafely lifting heavy objects, bad posture, being inactive and overweight, can also make the development of sciatica more likely.

Sciatica may sometimes improve on its own, usually within four to six weeks; however, there are also some things you can do to help recovery. These include:

  • Staying active
  • Heat packs on the painful areas
  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Gentle exercise
  • Physiotherapy exercises for sciatica
  • Sleeping with a pillow between the knees

If symptoms of Sciatica continue past four to six weeks, more advanced treatments may be offered, including:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Prescription painkillers or painkilling injections
  • Surgery – an operation called decompression may sometimes help to relieve sciatica
  • A procedure that seals some nerves in the back to prevent them sending pain signals
  • Psychological support

Medical Cannabis and Sciatica

Medical cannabis may be considered as an alternative medication when other therapies have failed to manage symptoms and pain satisfactorily. Cannabis medications may be useful as an alternative to opioids, reducing the risk of side effects and developing a dependency.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.

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