Sciatica; Pain That’s Hard to Pinpoint. You feel it in your legs, but it’s caused by a problem in your back. Sciatica takes its name from the nerves that run from your spine to your feet. When a sciatic nerve in your lower back is irritated, it can cause pain and numbness.
The Sciatic Nerves
The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves in your body.
The run from the lumbar (lower) spine and sacrum, over the surface of the buttocks, down the legs and into the feet.
What You May Feel
Most often you’ll feel a “pins and needles” type of pain or numbness. It will start in your back and shoot down your legs, sometimes as far as your big toe. This pain is called referred pain because you don’t feel it where it begins. you may also notice a weakness in your calves and buttocks.
Most people who experience shooting pains in their legs are suffering from a temporary, preventable condition. Personal habits, lifestyle and job choices can all contribute to irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Watch Your Wallet
If you have sciatica and a sit down job, check your wallet. A big, bulky wallet in your back pocket can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. If you remove the wallet, the pain may go away.
What You Can Do
* Avoid sitting for too long.
* Treat sciatica with ice or a cold pack in the middle of your lower back.
* Exercise to strengthen and stretch your back and stomach muscles. Practice good posture. Wear low-heeled shoes. Avoid sitting with your wallet in your back pocket.
* Use safe lifting techniques.
* Sleep on your side or back.
* Avoid repetitive motion tasks that you do over and over again that seem to bring on sciatica.
Whiplash – Because of your neck’s wide range of motion, you put greater bending, twisting and turning demands on it than you do the rest of your spine. Yet your neck is the most delicate part of your spinal column. Even minor “whipping” of your cervical vertebrae can injure your neck muscles, ligaments and soft tissues. Get immediate medical help if you think you have a whiplash injury; quick response could prevent arthritis or disc problems years later.
Your Cervical Vertebrae
Your seven cervical vertebrae form a fragile bridge to your brain. The vertebrae are small and supported only by muscles and ligaments that must hold and balance a 10-pound head. Your neck is sensitive to stresses and strains and often reacts violently to what seems like a minor trauma.
The cervical vertebrae protect eight pairs of spinal nerves that are connected to almost all parts of your body. The top two cervical vertebrae are shaped differently from other vertebrae, allowing your head to pivot sideways.
In a whiplash injury, your neck is whipped backward and rebounds forward suddenly, as in a rear-end auto collision. You may not feel the damage for hours or even years.
Whiplash can cause:
* herniated discs
* spinal cord and * * nerve injuries
Signs of injury may include:
* shoulder, neck or arm pain
* visual disturbances
Be Kind to Your Neck
* Protect yourself from whiplash by having a properly placed headrest in your car.
* Keep the muscles of your neck strong and flexible with isometric exercise and slow range of motion movements.
When Your Neck Aches
* Use ice compresses and an anti-inflammatory medication to help relive the pain and reduce the inflammation.
* Ask your doctor to recommend gentle stretching exercises to rehabilitate and stabilize your muscles.
Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass, or a common part of the aging process that may affect as many as 25 percent of all women over the age of 65. Osteoporosis often has no symptoms, but over time, bones become thin and weak and more easily broken. There are two things you can do to slow or even prevent osteoporosis:
* Get plenty of calcium – found in dairy products, broccoli, tofu and canned salmon with bone-in your diet.
* Do regular weight-bearing exercises such as walking and jogging.
Calcium, How Much?
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the human body and-along with phosphorus is important in forming bone tissue. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in your body is in your bones.
Before menopause, women need approximately 800-1000 mg of calcium per day (the amount in for to five glasses of mile). After menopause, women may need as much as 1200 to 1500 mg per day. Dairy products are by far the richest source of calcium. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, ask your doctor about calcium supplements. In order to absorb calcium, your body needs Vitamin D (found in fortified milk and multi-vitamin pills or from 30 to 60 minutes of daily sunshine).
Exercise: What Kind?
Like muscles, bones become thicker and stronger with use. That’s why weight-bearing exercises such as walking or jogging can help prevent osteoporosis. Try to do some form of weight-bearing exercise for 30 minutes, three to five times a week. In addition to weight-bearing exercise, conditioning exercises help strengthen the muscles that support your bones and joints, try alternating muscle-strengthening with weight bearing exercises to round out your exercise plan.
Are You at Risk?
Your history, lifestyle and even your race can affect your risk of osteoporosis. This checklist can help you and your doctor decide how much you are at rick. Each “yes” increases your chances of having osteoporosis.
* family history of osteoporosis
* early menopause (before 45)
* never been pregnant
* dairy products as a child
* smoker or drink alcohol every day
* diet high in salt, caffeine or fat
* rarely exercise
* Caucasian or Asian
* have lost height
* bone fractures
* loss of teeth