It is important to think of sciatica as a syndrome rather than a pure diagnosis. It is a pain that is very common in the elderly. When people experience sciatic nerve pain, it is often difficult for them to pinpoint where the pain stems from. In every case, there is a nerve being pinched somewhere inside the body.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a word that doctors will use to describe a number of different symptoms in the leg. These symptoms can range from pain, numbness, weakness, or a tingling sensation. It can have different causes, the common ones being a lumbar herniated disc, lumbar stenosis, and degenerative disk disease.
As the discs inside the bone undergo the degenerative process of aging, it starts to gradually break down. This can sometimes cause the inner core to leak out from the outer section of the disc. This occurrence is called disc herniation, which puts plenty of pressure on the nerve. As a consequence of either trauma or aging, intervertebral discs can experience damage or degeneration.
Loss of disc density can cause it to bulge, which in turn puts pressure on the nerve. This can sometimes pinch the root of the nerves while they leave the spine, causing lateral stenosis. Overall, sciatica is the emergence of pain that occurs as a result of bone density loss.
Where is the Sciatic Nerve Located?
The sciatic nerve is the primary nerve presented in the posterior compartment of the thigh. It is also the biggest branch of the sacral plexus, along with being the thickest nerve in the body. The nerves branch together and start from your lower back and then follow down to each leg passing through the buttocks.
Is Sciatica Common in the Elderly?
Sciatica is quite common in the elderly. This is a pain that will erupt due to the disc degenerating, which is an inevitable occurrence that will happen with old age. Elders will normally experience this sensation as a burning one that occurs in either the legs or the lower back. Most of the time, elders are able to identify the region of the pain but not exactly pinpoint the area where it is emerging from. However, it is common for this pain in the elderly to happen in the lower back and legs area.
What Causes Sciatica in the Elderly?
When people grow past 50, their bones, muscles, and nerves start to deteriorate, which can cause a lot of pain, including sciatica. Degeneration can also cause nerve inflammation, which is another reason for sciatic pain to erupt in the elderly. Overall, the causes for this pain can be a host of different reasons, from arthritis to a slipped disc.
Is Stretching Good for Sciatica Nerve Pain?
Stretches and exercises that work the hips and lower back area of the body can be great for relieving sciatica pain. This is why many doctors will suggest a few stretches and a range of motions for elderly people when they are experiencing this pain.
5 Best Sciatica Pain Stretches for Elderly
Sciatica pain starts in your lower back and follows down from your buttocks to the lower legs. Therefore, the five stretches to get relief from this type of pain include mobilizing those areas of the body of an older person. Below are five of the best sciatica pain stretches for the elderly.
1.) For this stretch, you need to sit up nice and tall on a chair. You can do this stretch standing up too, but it works best for elderly people in a sitting position, especially for people that have trouble standing up for too long.
2.) You have to sit up tall on the chair and place your hands on your lower back.
The next stretch works your hamstring.
1.) For this stretch, you need to make sure that one leg is straight while the other is flat on the floor, and you have to be in a seated position.
2.) From this position, you do not want to be rounding your back and keeping it straight the whole time. Then lean forward to feel a stretch in your thigh.
1.) For this stretch, you need to sit on your chair and place one leg out in front while crossing over the other leg on the one that is straight.
2.) After doing that, you have to bring the crossed leg up to your thigh and place both your hands on the shin of your leg.
3.) While doing this, you have to maintain an upright posture.
You can do this stretch on the bed or even on the floor mat. All you have to do is lay straight back and start moving your knees from side to side while keeping your back straight.
For this stretch, you need to lie back and then pull your knees and legs up just to stretch the hip joint and sciatica nerve. This will give it some range of motion.
How Often Should Sciatica Exercises Be Done?
Exercises for sciatica for seniors should happen at least five times in a given week. The reason for this high volume and frequency is because most of the exercises and stretches of this exercise is easy to do, last a few minutes, and are very low on impact.
How Long Does It Take for Sciatica Heal in the Elderly
Sciatica will normally take from 4 to 6 weeks to recover but can also take longer according to the severity of the pain. However, if it starts to last more than that and the pain gets unbearable, it may be a good time to visit your physician.
As you can see, exercises for sciatica pain for seniors are very easy to do. Therefore, make sure to incorporate them into your daily routine if you are someone that suffers from this pain.