Back pain can be miserable and can be caused by many different things. In this lesson, we'll learn about the connection between sciatica and constipation.
The Pain Is Affecting My Life!
Sarah is a 35-year-old female that leads a busy lifestyle. She works a stressful full-time job as well as raising three young children with her husband. As with many busy people, she eats a poor diet because of the rush of her days.
A few weeks ago, Sarah starting having significant pain in her back, butt, and down her right leg. She figured she must have pulled her back although she didn't remember doing anything. She hadn't lifted anything heavy either. She tried to ignore it at first but when it didn't go away, she decided she needed to see her doctor.
What Is Sciatica?
Sarah visits with Dr. Smith the next week. After hearing Sarah's symptoms, he told her she is having sciatica. Sciatica is a symptom of some other condition. The sciatic nerve starts around the third lumbar vertebrae, which is your lower back. Each level of vertebrae has a nerve root and these combine to make the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body.
Sciatica is pain from some type of pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve. There can be different causes of the pressure, often it is from a herniated disc due to heavy lifting. Hallmark symptoms with sciatica are pain in the lower back, buttocks, and down the leg. Usually sciatica only affects one side of the body. The pain is often described as both sharp and dull.
Sarah agrees with this and says sometimes she has a sensation of pins and needles in her leg. Occasionally, she even has some numbness in her leg. She shares with the doctor that it seems to be worse after she has been sitting for a long time.
Dr. Smith gives her some stretches to do and encourages her to take some ibuprofen when needed. He advises her to return if her pain doesn't improve in the next week.
Constipation and Sciatica
Unfortunately, Sarah's pain continued to get worse. The next week she went back to see Dr. Smith again. He ordered an imaging test called an MRI to see what is causing the pressure on her sciatic nerve.
After the results were back from the MRI, Dr. Smith asked Sarah to come back in to see him. He told her that she didn't have a herniated disc pushing on the nerve. There was no narrowing of the vertebrae or tumor pushing on the nerve either.
Sarah was confused and asked what was causing her pain then? Dr. Smith said he did notice on the MRI that she had a lot of stool in her bowels and asked her if she had problems with constipation. She wasn't sure why this mattered right now but did tell him that she has dealt with constipation on and off the last couple of years. Over the last six months, she has had more trouble with constipation. During that time, she was having more stress at work and she found herself eating even more unhealthy than usual.
Dr. Smith explains that the constipation may be the cause of her back pain. Because of the location of her bowels in regards to the sciatic nerve, if the bowels are distended due to constipation, this can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing the sciatica.
Sarah couldn't imagine that constipation could be causing this much pain. But she takes Dr. Smith's advice to change her diet and increase her fiber intake to help manage the constipation. He also advises her to take Milk of Magnesia today to start getting her bowels cleaned out.
A few weeks later, Sarah follows up with Dr. Smith. Her constipation has improved and surprisingly, her sciatica also improved! She was no longer having any pain but she noticed if she started getting constipated again, she would start feeling some of the symptoms. When that started, she would be more aggressive with her constipation to alleviate the symptoms.
In your lower back, the sciatic nerve starts and continues into your buttocks and down your leg on each side. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body.
Sciatica is a symptom caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Symptoms include pain in the back, buttocks, and down one of the legs. The pain is sharp and dull, described as pins and needles. It can also cause numbness in the leg.
There is many different causes of sciatica. An unlikely cause can be constipation. If the bowels are distended due to constipation, this can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. Managing constipation can relieve symptoms of sciatica.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.