After the shoulders, the lower back is the most commonly injured part of a swimmer's body. One of the lower back injuries that swimmers can experience is sciatica, a condition that occurs when a herniated disc presses against the sciatic nerve, leading to pain. Here are three things swimmers need to know about sciatica.
How does swimming lead to sciatica?
Swimming can put a lot of stress on your spine, depending on what strokes you choose to practice. Strokes that necessitate rotating your body in the water lead to more spinal stress than strokes that don't require this rotation. Your discs are the cushions in between your vertebrae that absorb the force of this stress, but after many hours in the pool, your discs can get damaged.
This damage can lead to disc herniation. Disc herniation means that your disc slips out of its proper place in between your vertebrae and puts pressure on your nerves. If the disc presses against your sciatic nerve, you'll develop sciatica.
What are the signs of sciatica?
The sciatic nerve starts in your lower back, splits into two branches, and then travels down each of your legs and into your feet. The classic sign of sciatica is radiating pain along this nerve, generally on one side of the body. In some cases, the pain is just a mild ache, but in other cases, the pain is excruciating. The affected muscles may spasm.
The pain associated with sciatica tends to get worse when you cough or sneeze. You may find that sitting for a long time is uncomfortable. If you think you have sciatica, take a break from your swim training and see your doctor.
How is sciatica treated?
Sciatica is treated with at least six weeks of conservative treatments. These treatments aim to reduce your pain and include epidural steroid injections. These injections are given into your epidural space and can relieve your discomfort temporarily. Physiotherapy can also be used to help you strengthen your back muscles.
If conservative treatments fail, multiple surgical procedures can be performed. The herniated portion of your disc can be surgically removed to take pressure off of the nerve, though this will leave your vertebrae with incomplete cushioning. An alternate surgical procedure involves fully removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc.
If you have more questions about physical rehabilitation services, contact a center like Holly Heights Nursing Home.