What is

Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to the feelings of leg pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling, that travel down the back of the leg from the low back via the sciatic nerve. The word Sciatica does not refer to a diagnosis of the condition, rather, it is a description of the symptoms themselves. Those who experience the pain of Sciatica depict it as searing, radiating, stabbing, or piercing.

The Sciatic Nerve begins at the lower back, most typically beginning at lumbar segment L3. It is the body’s largest single nerve, comprised of many nerve roots which branch out from the spine and then come together to form the sciatic nerve. The nerve travels a path from the low back through the buttock, along the back of the leg, and then branches out as smaller nerves to individual areas of the leg like the calf, thigh, foot, or toes. If this nerve is irritated or compressed, sciatica symptoms will happen. Often, the pain is debilitating.

what are the

Symptoms?


Any or all of these symptoms can indicate Sciatica Nerve pain.
The pain is most often on only one side of the body, and felt in the buttocks and/or leg
Sitting exacerbates the pain
The pain is not a dull ache, but is described as burning, tingling, or searing
Difficulty moving the toes, leg or foot
Weakness or numbness in the leg
The pain is rarely in the foot, but radiates down the leg and into the foot

The symptoms will correlate with the location of the affected nerve, and can be occasional and annoying or steady and incapacitating.

What are the

Causes?

Because Sciatica is not a condition in itself, it is important to recognize medical reasons which could be the underlying cause of the pain, so it can be effectively treated. Below are lower back problems that most commonly cause Sciatica:

  • Lumbar Herniated Disc
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

What are the

TREATMENTS?


If this is an ongoing condition, treatment may be necessary so it does not worsen. Surgery can be considered if repair of the root cause of the nerve damage is indicated. Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Heat or Ice
  • Pain Medications
  • Epidural Steroid Injections
  • Chiropractic or manual manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Massage Therapy
  • Physical Therapy or Exercise

Surgical options for sciatica are not usually urgent unless progressive weakness of the leg or if loss of bladder/bowel control is present. If severe pain is present after 4 to 6 weeks, or longer, or if pain is not relieved after attempting other non-surgical methods, two surgeries are generally recommended for relief of sciatic pain, a Microdiscectomy or a Lumbar Laminectomy.

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