The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that originates from the lower back and passes through both the legs to the feet, is important to provide the motor and sensory functions to the legs. Sciatic nerve injury also known as Sciatica is caused due to any kind of pressure such as stretching, jerk or cutting of the nerve.
Symptoms and complications
Injury in the sciatic nerve leads to loss of muscle power and pain that spreads to the back of the leg from the lower back. It generally occurs only on one side of the body. The pain may range from mild to severe ache, sometimes it might feel like a sharp pain which can develop progressively or suddenly.
Sciatica is known to cause some complications such as:
- leg injury
- inability to move the leg
- loss of sensation in the leg
- permanent damage of nerve.
Risk Factors that influence Sciatica
- Age – Increase in the age of a person may lead to a herniated disk or bone spurs.
- Occupation – Carrying heavy loads, driving for a prolonged time or even a sedentary lifestyle may lead to deformation in the spinal cord.
- Obesity – Excess weight increases stress on the spine, thus leading to spinal cord injury.
- Diabetes – Nerve damage may occur due to the high sugar level in the blood.
Common treatment options
- Anti-inflammatories – Non-steroidal drugs can be used to reduce the inflammation of the nerve
- Muscle relaxants – To get relief from muscle cramp or muscle spasm.
- Antidepressants – In case of chronic lower back pain
- Hot and cold compress – Combination of hot and cold packs can help to relieve pain. The cold pack reduces inflammation associated with the pain and the heat will increase the flow of blood to the area.
- Acupuncture – Needles are inserted into the specific sites at lower back to create a response from the nervous system. The response triggers our brain to release natural painkillers, increase blood flow and relax the surrounding muscles.
- Massage – A deep tissue massage will help to relax the tensed muscles and reduces the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Strengthening exercises – To provide strength in the spinal cord for supporting the lower muscles.
- Stretching exercises – Helps to stretch the muscles of the lower back so that the muscles become flexible.
In addition, physiotherapist also advices to improve body posture while sitting or sleeping.
Treatment by stem cell therapy
All of the above options will only provide instant relief from sciatic pain but it cannot cure the disease. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are being researched to find its benefits in treating sciatic nerve injury. In a pre-clinical study conducted by Yilmaz, A. et al. (2018) showed that cord blood-derived CD34+ Stem Cells can protect and prevent degeneration of axon and myelin sheath.
For this pre-clinical study, they used 21 female rats to study the right hind limbs. The rats were divided into 3 groups and a full layer cut is done on the right sciatic nerve.
- On the first group, only the cut was made.
- On the second group, the cut was covered with synthetic vascular graft.
- On the third group, the area of the cut was covered with stem cell applied vascular graft.
Post 8 week of operation, they found that there were no major differences between the first and second group. However, in the third group, they found that the degeneration of axon and myelin sheet was prevented due to the use of CD34+ cells. This indicates that with further research, umbilical cord blood stem cells can help to treat nerve injury.
So, it is advisable for the parents to store the stem cells of their baby. Due to the ease in method Umbilical cord blood is collected at the time of the birth which is further processed for extraction of stem cells, which is then kept in cryopreserved compartments at -196°C. These stem cells are ready to use and can be retrieved whenever needed. So, bank your baby’s stem cells with us and avail a chance to get rid of nerve pain.