Sciatica is a type of pain that occurs within the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, and it extends from the back to the lower regions of the legs, within the back area. When there is damage to the sciatica, the pain is generally present within one side of the body, but it will extend down the entire area of the body, from the lower back to the buttocks, and then into the legs, ending with the feet. While this condition can be difficult to deal with, getting prompt treatment within a timely manner will ensure that your sciatica doesn’t get worse over time, and pain relief can be found.
Facts about Sciatica
- Many people think that sciatica pain is the same for everyone, but this is a misconception. Sciatica pain can differ greatly from one person to another, which is dependent upon the area where the compression is present on the nerve.
- Sciatica pain can actually lead to damage that cannot be reduced. While some believe that this condition is always treatable, if left without the proper treatment, it can cause serious health issues. Pain is a common symptom with sciatica, while in the early stages, but if you experience numbing and bladder inconsistency, immediate medical attention should be sought.
As mentioned, not everyone will experience the same symptoms from this nerve condition. However, some symptoms tend to be universal, and these symptoms may be present on their own, or there may be several present in the patient. They include:
- Pain present in the rear area or leg.
- This pain often gets worse while sitting down.
- High body temperature.
- Profound loss of sensation.
- A tingling sensation within the leg.
- A burning sensation in the leg.
- Difficulty moving the leg or foot affected.
- May have numbness and weak feeling in the leg.
- A constant pain in the lower back or buttocks that does not get better over time.
- A sudden, sharp and shooting pain that occurs within the leg, and can make it difficult to stand.
Generally, the pain of sciatica will be located on one side of the body. However, there are some cases where the symptoms spread from one side of the body to the other. Some people may not be affected by the pain, while others can experience pain that is so difficult to deal with, that they may take time off off work or be unable to complete their normal activities. In some cases, the pain will be focused within the foot region, and the patient may be unable to walk.
If sciatica is suspected, your doctor will often do a physical examination, which will include questions about the pain experienced when pressure is applied to certain areas. If you have the symptoms of sciatica, the doctor will then do an X-ray, or possibly and MRI, as this condition can show up on this imaging device clearly.
Sciatica occurs from irritation within the lower lumbar area of the spine, which causes the sciatic nerves to become sensitive, and then send painful signals throughout the body. While this is the most common cause, it can also occur due to:
- Narrowing of the spinal canal, also known as lumbar spinal stenosis, which occurs in the lower region of the back.
- One of the many degenerative disc disorders, which cause the spine lack of proper cushioning in the spine.
- A slipped disc from the vertebral.
There are many treatment options available for pain relief, reduction, and management. The type used is dependent upon the severity of the condition and the amount of pain present. These include:
- Physical therapy: Often used to try and prevent the condition from getting worse, this works to help repair the nerve.
- Exercise Regular exercise improves lower-back pain, sciatica, and overall health by increasing blood flow, resulting in greater flexibility and range of motion.
- Nutrition: Healthy eating habits offer many benefits for pain and overall good health.
- Medication: Several medications are used along with physical therapy to help control the amount of pain experienced by the patient.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: TENS is the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for pain management.
- Trigger Point Injections: TPI addresses areas of muscle containing trigger points, such as knots of muscle formed through muscle spasms.
- Lysis of adhesions: This procedure is effective in eliminating or reducing excessive scar tissue or adhesions in the epidural space.
- Steroid injections: These stop the nerve from causing pain by numbing the nerve, and then blocking the pain signals.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation: Typical used for individual with chronic and severe lower back pain.
- Intrathecal pump implants: This may provide for longer-term pain relief.
- Surgery: A more invasive treatment that repairs the nerve directly is surgery.