Sciatica pain radiates downwards from the lower back, back of the thigh, between the calves and into the foot. Numbness and tingling may radiate into the foot. Inflammation near a degenerating inter-vertebral disk, a slipped disc, a pinched nerve, narrowing of spinal canal, and aging can cause sciatica. Alternative treatments include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
If you have been wondering what sciatica is and how its treated, you are not alone. Sciatica is actually a symptom of an underlying medical condition and not a diagnosis in itself, contrary to the belief of many.
Generally, it presents itself in the form of sharp pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg. Usually, the pain is sensed on one side of the body, typically from the low back to behind the thigh and searing down below the knee. It is due to the exasperation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The symptoms can vary from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating pain.
Symptoms Of Sciatica
Specific sciatica symptoms can be different in location and severity, depending upon the condition causing sciatica. The pain can be debilitating, and without proper treatment, lasting sciatic nerve damage can result.
The specific sciatica symptoms, include, but are not limited to leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and symptoms that radiate into the foot depending on where the nerve is pinched.
Causes of Sciatica
A substantial percentage of the cause(s) behind this medical condition often result from a compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, due to the degeneration of an intervertebral disk, down in the lumbar spine. Termed as the Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, the condition is surprisingly a natural process that occurs with aging.
Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that spinal level, and inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the nerve root(s) in the area.
The Lumbar Herniated Disc is another notorious culprit behind the sciatica pain. It occurs when the soft inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) leaks out, or herniates, through the fibrous outer core, called the annulus, and irritates the contiguous nerve root.
Also known as a slipped disk or a pinched nerve, sciatica is an ally of the lumbar herniated disc.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, commonly due to a narrowing of the spinal canal, is another medical condition that could earn you sciatica pain. Lumbar spinal stenosis is related to natural aging in the spine and is relatively common in adults over the age 60.
The narrowing of the spinal canal may result from a combination of one or more of the following:
- Enlarged facet joints
- Overgrowth of soft tissue
- A bulging disc placing pressure on the nerve roots, causing sciatica pain
Other medical conditions that are top suspects behind sciatica pain include Piriformis syndrome. It is an irritation of the as it runs under the piriformis muscle in the buttock and Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which is the irritation of the sacroiliac joint that is located at the bottom of the spine.
Been Ignoring Your Back Pain?
Think again. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NIH), about 5% – 10% of lower back pain is caused by Sciatica. However, regular exercises go a long way to relieving the pain. With severe sciatic nerve pain, the condition may need to be treated so that it does not get worse over time.
When the pain is severe or does not get better on its own, a more structured treatment approach, such as surgery, may offer the best approach to finding pain relief. Initial treatment is typically managed with pain medications, and it is usually recommended that one continues with activities to the best of their abilities.
Most reported cases subside in less than six to eight weeks. While surgery often speeds pain improvement, it should be the last resort. Surgery may be required if complications occur such as bowel or bladder problems.
Other Treatment Options
In addition to regular medical treatments, several substitute treatments have also been shown to provide operative sciatica pain relief for many patients. Three of the more common forms of alternative care for sciatica include chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
If you think you or someone you know may have Sciatica, you should make an appointment with your doctor.