Sciatica is characterized by pain running down the lower back and legs along the sciatic nerve. It is usually caused due to a herniated disc or the application of pressure on the sciatic nerve by the spinal vertebrae. Typically, sciatica only affects one side of the body, which is a powerful sciatica indicator. This also causes pain, inflammation, and numbness in the affected leg.
Symptoms of sciatica include radiating pain from the lower back to the buttocks and down none leg. This is the hallmark of sciatica. The problem can range from mild to severe, with dull aching, sharp and burning sensations, and occasionally excruciating pain. A patient may feel a kind of shocking or stabbing pain in their lower back and legs as well. These symptoms may be aggravated while coughing or sneezing.
Sciatica, as the name suggests, occurs due to problems in the Sciatic nerve. The nerve might get pinched or inflamed due to a herniated disk, injury, or overgrowth in the spine (a bone spur). A patient may also develop sciatica as a byproduct of more serious underlying conditions such as a cancer tumor or diabetes. Certain groups of individuals are at a higher risk of developing sciatica. Older people, people with diabetes, obese individuals are all at a higher risk of developing sciatica. Patients who have sedentary jobs that involve sitting for extended hours or occupations, applying a lot of repeated stress on the back, are also at a higher risk.
Mild sciatica usually goes away with time without the need for any external medical intervention. If your pain lasts longer than a week or two, it may be time to see a doctor. If you’re experiencing sudden and severe pain in any of the regions described above, are noting sciatica symptoms after an injury, or are experiencing bowel or bladder syndrome, please consult a doctor immediately.
The doctor will run their diagnosis with the help of imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can help a medical professional better investigate patients’ conditions. These give the doctor insights about the type and extent of one’s situation, allowing the doctor to prescribe appropriate treatment.
Treatment involves the use of medication, physical therapy, or surgery. Medications such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, narcotics, anti-depressants, and anti-seizure drugs may be prescribed. Once that patient has stabilized a bit and no longer experiencing the acute pain, they may start physical therapy. The physical therapist will design the program to help prevent further damage by using muscle training, stretching, and postural training. Steroidal injections such as corticosteroid medication may be prescribed to help reduce the pain and suppress inflammation. The number of such injections one can take is often limited to avoid developing any side effects. In extreme cases, surgery may be the only possible form of treatment. Surgeons may look to remove the bone growth or portion of the herniated disc, helping reduce the stress on the sciatic nerve.