Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back and branches down the back of each leg. Typically sciatica affects only the side of the lower body but depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain can also extend down to the foot.
Pain that goes from your lower back through your buttock and down your leg-foot could be sciatica. Nerve pain related to a compression of the sciatic nerve usually affects only one side of your body, but can also radiate to both legs (lower limbs).
A slipped disc or herniated disc is a condition when a soft cushion (cartilage) of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out. This is painful if it presses on nerves, especially the sciatic nerve in the low back area.
The cause is the usual age-related wear and tear of the discs. Spinal discs lose some water as you age, which makes them more prone to tear or rupture due to a strain. This can lead to pain, numbness and sometimes weakness in the leg.
Main risk factors for sciatica includes:
Age: herniated disks can happen at adult or older age, causing the typical sciatic pain; but disc degeneration, bone spurs and lumbar stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal and foramen), which can cause pain, numbness and even weakness to one or both legs, are more common among older people.
Sedentary lifestyle: people who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.
Smoking cigarettes: increases your risk of having disc disease.
Lifestyle: it’s suspected that twisting your back, lifting heavy weights and bad posture may lead to sciatica.
Signs & Symptoms:
Sciatica symptoms could include some of the following:
Pain that radiates from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg and foot is a typical symptom of sciatica.
The pain may range from being quite mild to severe. Some people experience it like an electric shock.
The pain is often aggravated by coughing, sneezing or sitting for a long period.
Some people have numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg or foot.
At Medcare, a spine specialist will start to assess the patient with a medical history, physical exam, checking for muscle strength, sensation and reflexes. If necessary, imaging tests may be required. You may be asked to have an x-ray, MRI, CT scan and/or electroneuromyography (ENMG) for the proper diagnosis.
The spine specialist will give you a plan for your low-back pain radiating to the leg and/or foot (lumbosacral radicular pain) treatment, according to the case. This plan could include medications, such as: anti-inflammatories, painkillers and muscle relaxants, physical therapy, pain clinic and spinal injections.
If the patient does not improve with conservative treatment, our spinal surgeons can proceed with the required surgical treatment to alleviate their sciatic problem due to lumbar disc herniation or related problem.
The main indications for surgery for cases of lumbar disc herniation are the following: significant and persistent pain to the leg and/or foot, weakness of the lower limb, and in more severe cases, loss of bowel and/or bladder control (cauda equina syndrome). The spine surgeon usually use microsurgical technique to remove part of the herniated disc to decompress the sciatic nerve (lumbar decompression and microdiscectomy).
A: Follow general good practices to protect your back. Exercise regularly and strengthen the core muscles in your back and abdomen. Avoid smoking, as some of the smoke components can interfere with the blood supply to the discs and predispose to disc diseases. Maintain good posture and use chairs that provide lower back support. When lifting weights, take care that your back is not strained.
A: There are exercises that can relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Meet a physiotherapist at Medcare for the best physiotherapy for sciatica. Walking is usually helpful as well, as it releases endorphins that give relief from pain and reduce inflammation, but you should try to avoid painful activities.
A: Sciatica or irritation of the sciatic nerve is a condition that affects four out of ten people. The degree of irritation differs from one person to another; some people may only feel mild pain, others may experience shooting pain that can hamper everyday life.
To relieve the pain, patients may be recommended muscle relaxants and over the counter pain relievers. However, several exercises can also help with reducing sciatica and strengthening the muscles and the nervous system. For extreme cases, steroid injections are used to soothe symptoms.
Want to get rid of sciatic nerve pain? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.
A: Sciatica typically develops when the sciatic nerves get pinched due to a herniated disc or because of overgrowth of the bone in the path of the sciatic nerve. Factors such as an increase in weight or sitting for extended periods can aggravate the condition due to a rise in pressure.
Jobs that involve carrying heavy loads or driving for long could also trigger sciatica. Even an increase in blood sugar level can trigger sciatica as the unregulated flow and usage of blood can cause nerve damage.
There could be multiple other reasons that trigger sciatica. Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist for effective treatment of your condition.
A: There are two types of sciatica – acute and chronic. An acute sciatica episode can last for a couple of weeks and can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes. The second type of sciatica is a worrisome condition as the effects can last a lifetime with persistent pain that aggravates and reduces on its own.
While medication and physiotherapy help to treat the condition, chronic sciatica doesn’t respond all that well to treatments and may take a few months for you to experience the effects. However, through self-care, treatment, and adequate rest, the condition does improve. But make sure that you don’t stay immobile for long as the lack of mobility may worsen your condition.
Need treatment for your sciatica? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.
A: While rest is essential for people who suffer from sciatica, staying inactive for too long can aggravate the pain. However, it can be difficult for people with sciatica to do strenuous exercises. In such cases, you can reduce the symptoms of sciatica without triggering the pain by walking.
The movement will not only help open the nerves but will also help you lose weight, which is especially beneficial for an obese person as obesity could lead to sciatica. Walking also releases endorphins which help in fighting pain and reducing inflammation. Lastly, ensure that your walking form, as well as your footfall, is correct. If it is not, it can pinch the sciatic nerve and cause further pain.
Want to know how to manage sciatica? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.
A: Depending on the kind of sciatica and your current lifestyle, we will suggest treatment or a combination of treatments that reduce the pain and improve the condition. There are several over the counter pain relievers and muscle relaxants that help with the pain.
When it comes to severe sciatica, physiotherapy and steroid injections are used in extreme cases. We may also recommend that you modify your diet and lifestyle to combat the problem naturally. For instance, since obesity triggers sciatica, bringing your weight down to a healthy range and changing your diet can help you deal with it better.
Need a successful treatment for sciatica? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.