Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, tingling, or numbing in the leg. It is a nerve pain that is the result of an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the thickest and longest nerve in the body, originating in your buttock or gluteal area. It is made of five nerve roots: two from the lower back region, that is the lumbar spine, and three from the final section of the spine known as sacrum.
While true injury to the sciatic nerve is actually pretty rare, the term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe pain that begins in the lower back and radiates down the leg. If you have sciatica, you can experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve. It can also cause the muscles in your leg and foot to weaken, numb your leg, and create a tingling sensation in your feet and toes.
Sciatica is actually very common. Research shows that about 40% of the people in the US experience it at some point in their life. Sciatica can either come on suddenly or gradually. Typically, it only affects one leg at a time, but it is possible for it to occur in both legs. This usually depends on the location of the nerve being pinched along the spinal column. Here are some symptoms of sciatica:
- Moderate to severe pain in the lower back, buttock and down the leg
- Loss of movement
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Numbness or weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg or feet
- Tingling, or feeling pins and needles in your legs, toes and feet
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
If your symptoms don’t get better and continue to worsen with time, make a prompt visit to a Neurologist in Lahore.
There are certain things that can put you at a higher risk of developing sciatica. These include:
As you grow older, your bone tissues and spinal disks begin tearing down. This can put your nerves at risk of being injured or pinched by the changes in bones, disks and ligaments.
If you are overweight, you can put unnecessary strain on the back, increasing the risk of sciatica.
- Lack of Strong Core
Your “core” refers to the muscles in your back and abdomen. The stronger your core, the more support you’ll have for your lower back. A weak core can lead to a number of problems including sciatica.
- Previous or Current Injury
An injury to your lower back can put you at a higher risk for sciatica.
- Active, Physical Job
If you have a job that requires heavy lifting, it can increase your risk of lower back problems. Similarly, jobs with prolonged sitting can also contribute to triggering sciatica.
- Poor Posture
If you lift weights, but fail to maintain a proper posture, you can increase your risk of developing sciatica.
The nicotine present in tobacco can cause damage to your spinal tissue, weaken bones, and speed the wearing down of your vertebral discs.
- Inactive lifestyle
Sitting for prolonged periods and not exercising can increase your risk of developing sciatica.
Research shows that diabetes can increase your chances of nerve damage.
This condition can cause damage to your spine, and put your nerves at risk of injury.
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. Research shows that men between ages 30 and 50 are more likely to have sciatica. Some common causes of sciatica include:
- Slipped herniated disk
- Spinal stenosis
- Pelvic injury or fracture
- Piriformis syndrome; a pain disorder involving the narrow muscles in your buttocks
- Trauma injury to the lumbar spine or sciatic nerve
Treatment is focused on decreasing your pain and increasing your mobility. A lot of cases of sciatica go away over time with simple self-care treatments. These include applying cold and hot packs to reduce pain and swelling, taking over the counter medicines, mostly non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and performing gentle stretches. However, if these treatments fail to work, your Neurologist in islamabad can then try other treatment options. These include prescription medications, physical therapy and spinal injections, which are administered under local anesthesia. Alternative therapies may include acupuncture, massage, yoga and biofeedback.