Sciatica typically refers to the pain that is experienced along the sciatic nerve. This is caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve from a disk injury, a bulging or herniated disk that is pushing directly onto the nerve.
It can also be caused by a particularly tight muscle in the buttock called the piriformis muscle. This is referred to as piriformis syndrome. On rare occasions there can be a growth such a tumour or cyst that can trap the nerve.
Depending how the pain is defined, 2% to 40% of people have sciatica at some point in their life and it is most common in 40 – 50 year olds. It affects more men than women.
Causes of sciatica include –
- Piriformis syndrome
When the sciatic nerve passes through the piriformis muscle rather than beneath it.
- Spinal disc herniation
Caused when the spinal disc herniation presses on one of the lumbar or sacral nerve roots.
- Spinal stenosis
When the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord, cauda equina, or sciatic nerve roots.
- Tumors (cauda equina syndrome)
Tumors impinging on the spinal cord or the nerve roots can cause sciatica.
Many people have reported sciatica symptoms after trauma, such as a car crash.
It is also often seen in pregnancy due to the fetus pressing on the sciatic nerve and although not directly harmful to mother and child, it can cause leg spasms and loss of balance.
Symptoms are often described as leg pain, tingling and weakness from the lower back and radiates down one side from the lower back into the leg, often just below the knee.
Symptoms can last up to 8 weeks but this can vary depending on your treatment.
In mild cases of sciatica, simple steps can be taken to ease your pain.
- Regular back stretches
- Light exercise
- Heat packs for the lower back
- Over the counter painkillers (not paracetamol)
- Antidepressants for chronic low back pain
- muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms
It is very important to remain active, sitting or lying in one position for long periods of time can increase your pain and prolong your recovery time.
In most cases of injury or damage, patients often believe that pain relates to furthering the damage. In the case of sciatica this is simply not true.
Sitting or lying can increase pressure, and while the pain may subside while you are resting, the pain increases again once you stand.
Treatments for sciatica include pain management and scheduled activity.
Other treatments can include –
- Chiropractic treatments
It may be that the patient may be referred for surgery but in most cases, it can be managed with physical therapy.
In some cases of ongoing chronic sciatica two surgeries can be performed –
Removal of either part of all the whole intervertebral disc which is causing the issue.
Removal of part of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve.
Should I ever been concerned enough to go to A&E?
In rare cases, sciatica can mask or evolve into a more serious back issue, in these cases medical attention is a must.
You should seek immediate medical attention if:-
- You experience numbness around your genitals or anus
- You have weakness or numbness in both legs
- You have pain down both sides of your buttocks and legs
- You find it hard to urinate
- You lose control of your bowels
Princess Eugenie shows off her impressive scars to honour the NHS and the people who cared for her after she was diagnosed with scoliosis.
Jan Lehovsky, Eugenies surgeon, was also invited to attend the wedding along with other representatives of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, in a show of appreciation for the care she received when she was just 12 years old.
Downing a beautiful V neckline dress and her hair to one side princess Eugenie bared her scar like a medal.
Congratulations on your big day, from all of us at Freedom Clinics.
Freedom Clinics offer affordable back, joint and health care. We are specialists in osteopathy, chiropractic, sports massage, physiotherapy, podiatry & chiropody and acupuncture. Our expert team of fully qualified and registered practitioners treat a wide range of conditions including the identification and treatment of sciatica.
Initial consultations are completely FREE
If you are experiencing lower back problems and would like further advice please get in touch here.
Alternately call us on – 0203 197 9100