Dr. Kenney’s Friday 5 Spot
I interact with hundreds of patients each week and get asked a lot of questions. On Fridays I like to share some of the answers I give and hope it has value for you.
My back hurts, is it sciatica? I am addressing this question because so many people are confused on what sciatica is. In fact, multiple times every week I will hear someone say something like “I threw my sciatica out” or “I hurt my sciatica” which as you’ll understand in a moment is not possible.
Sciatica is a general term that refers to aggravation of the sciatic nerve which is formed by 3 nerve roots as they exit your lower back on each side (your L4, L5 and S1 nerve roots form it). The most common symptoms of sciatica are pain, numbness and/or tingling down the back of your leg and sometimes even down to the foot. Sciatica can be caused by nerve irritation (commonly called a “pinched nerve”), disc issues, piriformis syndrome and more. Though the symptoms affect the leg, the root cause is the lower back and sacroiliac areas from where the nerves originate. That said, when sciatic leg pain is present, the lower back is usually not painful. Sciatica is an extremely common condition and though it’s not pleasant, it is not always serious. In fact, I would estimate that 9/10 cases of sciatica I see end up resolving completely with treatment and are not serious.
What did you think about the news from the W.H.O.? For those that didn’t hear, the WHO came out this week after reviewing tracing data from multiple countries around the world and concluded that “asymptomatic spread of COVID can occur but is very rare.” They also expanded and said that based on their data, the focus should strictly be on isolating infected people with symptoms. My take here is that while I’m glad this information is now coming out; a lot was built on a premise that is turning out to be false (similar studies in California are showing these same findings over the past 2 months). For the first time ever, healthy people were being quarantined and treated as a potential danger to the population at large. Our country and many others made a lot of decisions based on this information and many states and countries continue to double down on this as well The counter argument could be that we had to be cautious and over a short term maybe that was warranted. However, I do believe if you are going to invoke science to create drastic policies affecting millions of people, social norms, businesses, industries, etc. then you absolutely must be correct on that science before doing so.
Something nice/inspirational I’ve seen this week? I took my sons and their friend to the football fields near my house in the morning on Saturday and noticed that a group of 4 high school aged kids had set up a covered area. We went back to the fields around 7pm and they were still there so we asked what they had been doing. They explained to us that they made a goal to run 1 mile every hour for 26 hours to total the length of a marathon. As a runner, I appreciated the challenge but that wasn’t what I found so cool about it. Seeing those young boys coming up with a way to challenge themselves, committing to it and putting in the effort to achieve their goal with no one there to see it was awesome. It inspires me to work harder when I see people getting after it like they were.
A simple recommendation? With so much bad news around us these days I think it’s a great time to get back to something you love. This could be anything you enjoy and maybe something you haven’t done much of recently. In my younger years before sports began to take up so much of my life, I used to enjoy drawing quite a bit. Recently I’ve started to do a bit more of this and it relaxes me and makes me happy. Find something that makes you feel good and get back at it.
Some quotes I love?
“Fear is never a reason for quitting; it is only an excuse.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out but knowledge stays.” – Bruce Lee
“First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.” – Martin Niemoller (this is displayed in the Holocaust War Memorial near where I lived in Boston and I passed it often and think of it frequently)
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