Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back throughout your hips and buttocks and down each leg.
Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.
Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the backbone, or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses a part of the nerve.
This causes inflammation, pain, and often some numbness in the affected leg.
Even though the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative remedies in a couple weeks.
People who have severe sciatica that is associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.
Symptoms of Sciatica:
Pain that radiates from the lower (lumbar) back to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica.
You may feel that the discomfort almost everywhere along the nerve pathway, but it’s especially likely to stick to a path from the low back for a buttock and the back of your calf and thigh.
The pain may vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain.
At times it can feel like a jolt or electrical shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting may aggravate symptoms.
Normally only 1 side of your entire body is affected.
Some folks also have numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the leg or foot.
You may have pain in one part of the leg and numbness in another area.
Mild sciatica usually goes away with time.
Call your physician if self-care measures don’t ease your symptoms or if your pain lasts more than a week, is intense, or becomes increasingly worse.
Get immediate medical care :
You have sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg.
The pain follows a serious injury, like a traffic accident.
You have difficulty controlling your bowels or bladder.
Causes of Sciatica:
Herniated spinal disc
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, usually with a herniated disk on your spine or by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) in your vertebrae.
More infrequently, the nerve can be compressed by a tumor or ruined by a disease such as diabetes.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
Age-related changes in the spine, like herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most frequent causes of sciatica.
Fat Loss– By increasing the strain on your spine, excess body weight may donate to the spinal adjustments that trigger sciatica.
A job that requires you to twist your back, take heavy loads, or drive a motor car for extended intervals might play a part in sciatica, however, there’s no conclusive evidence of the connection.
Extended sitting– People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to come up with sciatica than busy men and women are.
Diabetes– This illness, which affects the way that your body uses blood sugar, increases your chance of nerve damage.
Infection- Though most people recover fully from sciatica, frequently without treatment, sciatica can potentially cause irreversible nerve damage.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have:
Loss of feeling in the leg
Weakness at the leg
Loss of bowel or bladder function
Prevention of Sciatica:
It is not always feasible to stop sciatica, and the condition may recur. The following can play a key role in protecting your spine:
Exercise regularly– To keep your back strong, pay particular focus on your core muscles — the muscles in your stomach and lower back which are crucial for good posture and alignment.
Ask your doctor to recommend certain actions. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests, and a cushioned base.
Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your spine to maintain its regular curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
Use good body mechanics. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the job. Move up and down.
Keep your spine straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously.
Locate a lifting spouse if the object is heavy or awkward.
During the physical exam, your doctor may check your muscle strength and reflexes.
By way of example, you might be asked to walk on your toes or heels, rise from a squatting position and, while lying on your back, lift your legs at a time.
Pain that results in sciatica will often worsen during these activities.
A lot of people have herniated disks or bone spurs that will appear on X-rays along with other imaging tests but have no signs.
So doctors don’t typically order these tests unless your pain is severe, or it doesn’t improve in a few weeks.
X-ray- An X-ray of your spine may show an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) that could be pressing on a nerve.
MRI– This procedure employs a powerful magnet and radio waves to make cross-sectional images of your spine.
An MRI creates detailed images of soft and bone tissues like herniated disks. Throughout the exam, you lie on a table that moves into the MRI machine.
When a CT can be used to image the backbone, you may have a contrast dye injected into your spinal canal before the X-rays are taken — a process called a CT myelogram.
The dye then circulates around your spinal cord and spinal nerves, which appear white on the scanning.
This test measures the electrical impulses made by the nerves and the reactions of your muscles.
Treatment of Sciatica:
If your pain does not improve with self-care measures, your doctor may suggest some of the subsequent remedies.
The Kinds of drugs that might be prescribed for sciatica pain include:
Once your acute pain improves, your doctor or a physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program that will help you avoid future accidents.
This typically includes exercises to correct your posture, strengthen the muscles supporting your back and improve your flexibility.
In some cases, your physician may recommend an injection of a corticosteroid medication into the region around the involved nerve root.
Corticosteroids help lessen pain by suppressing inflammation around the irritated nerve. The effects usually wear off in a month or two.
The amount of steroid shots you can receive is restricted because the risk of serious side effects increases as soon as the injections occur too frequently.
This choice is generally reserved for when the compressed nerve causes substantial fatigue, loss of bowel or bladder control, or any time you have pain that progressively worsens or does not improve with other remedies.
Surgeons can remove the bone spur or the portion of the herniated disk that’s pressing on the pinched nerve.
For the majority of individuals, sciatica reacts to rectal measures. Although resting for a day or so may provide some relief, protracted childbirth will create your signs and symptoms worse.
Other Cosmetic remedies that might help include:
Cold packs– Initially, you might get relief from a cold pack set on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a fresh towel.
Sexy packs- After two to three times, apply heat to the areas that hurt. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs.
Stretching exercises to your low back can help you feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression.
Avoid jerking, bouncing, or twisting throughout the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Non-prescription medications– Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are sometimes helpful for sciatica.
Alternative therapies commonly used for low back pain include: In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts hair-thin needles in your skin at particular points on your body.
Some studies have indicated that acupuncture can help back pain, while others have found no benefit.
In case you choose to try acupuncture, then choose a licensed practitioner to ensure that he or she has had extensive training.
Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy physicians use to treat restricted spinal mobility.
The goal is to restore spinal motion and, as a result, improve function and reduce pain.
Spinal manipulation seems to be as safe and effective as standard treatments for low back pain, but may not be suitable for radiating pain.
Preparing for your appointment:
Not everybody who has sciatica needs medical attention. If your symptoms are severe or persist for over a month, however, make an appointment with your primary care doctor.
Everything you can do:
Write down your symptoms and if they began.
List key medical advice, including other conditions you have along with the names of drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements you take.
Note recent injuries or accidents that might have damaged your back.
Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Somebody who accompanies you can help you remember what your doctor tells you.
Write down questions to ask your physician to make the most of your appointment period.
For radiating low back pain, a few basic questions to ask your doctor include:
What is the most probable reason behind my back pain?
Are there other possible causes?
Can I want diagnostic tests?
If you are recommending medications, what are the potential side effects?
For how long will I need to take drugs?
Am I a candidate for surgery? Why or why not?
Are there any restrictions I want to follow?
What precautionary steps should I take?
What can I do to prevent my symptoms from recurring?
Don’t hesitate to ask different questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is Very Likely to ask you several questions, such as:
Do you have weakness or numbness in your legs?
Do certain body positions or activities make your pain worse or better?
How limiting is your pain?
Do you do heavy physical work?
Do you exercise regularly? If so, with what types of activities?
What cures or precautionary steps have you tried?
Ask your friends and loved ones for support. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…
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