(Sciatica can also be referred to as sciatic nerve dysfunction, sciatic neuritis or lumbar radiculopathy)
Sciatica is a term which refers to a fairly common form of low back pain and leg pain. Sciatica refers to a set of symptoms rather than a medical condition.
Sciatica’s symptoms are caused by irritation to the five spinal root nerves that become the sciatic nerves. The sciatica nerve starts in the lower spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot.
This irritation can be caused by compression or injury of either the left or right or both sciatic nerves. The irritation of the sciatica nerve results in pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in the legs and lower back and buttocks. It can create numbness or weakness in various parts of the leg and foot.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure to the sciatica nerve or when there is trauma resulting in damage to the sciatic nerve. It can thus be caused by anything that causes injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Causes include compression of the sciatic nerve roots by a herniated (torn) or a protruding disc in the lower back. It can be caused by trauma to the pelvic region. Pressure on the sciatica nerve can come from the spine being out of alignment, a pelvic injury or fracture of the pelvis. It can be a result of a tumor putting pressure on this nerve. There are many variations.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica symptoms can vary widely. It can be a mild tingling, a dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move. Symptoms include pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body, the pain may radiate below the knee but not always.
The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The pain or numbness may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.
The pain often starts slowly. Sciatica pain may get worse after standing or sitting, when sneezing, coughing or even laughing. It can get worse bending backwards or even walking a few yards. It is often worse at night.
What is the Treatment for Sciatica?
The treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms often differs, depending upon the underlying cause and pain levels.
Because sciatica is a symptom of another medical condition, the underlying cause should be identified and treated.
Often no treatment is required and recovery occurs on its own as the nerve repairs itself. Normal medical treatment addresses the pain by taking pain killers or putting heat or ice over the painful areas. Normally bed rest is not recommended, but reduction of activities for the first couple of days, than a slow return to normal activities.
Medical doctors will also try to reduce inflammation by injections of steroids.
Physical therapy exercises may be recommended.
Medical doctors will tell you that sciatica will get better on its own. However, it is common for it to return especially without addressing the underlying condition.
If the nerve is being compressed by the spine, spinal surgery will be recommended.
The cause of the sciatica pain needs to be addressed. The pressure or injury to the sciatica nerve is discussed in Trauma caused Nerve Damage
If the spine is pressing on the nerve, a chiropractic adjustment can relieve the pressure. For more on Chiropractic
If the nerve is injured, supplementation for inflammation and other nutrition will help the body heal.
Due to damage to the nerve, help may be needed to allow the body to repair the nerves. The body needs specific nutrients to be able to repair any nerve damage. For more information about nerve damage due to compression of a nerve go to Compression Neuropathy.
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