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Sciatica

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Image illustrates a woman is holding lower back with her hands due to pain.

Sciatica: An Overview

Sciatica is more popularly known as the radiating pain down your leg. The discomfort or pain is unique because it follows the path of the sciatic nerve, which originates from the lower back and branches out to the hip, buttocks, and down each leg.

Sciatica typically arises when excessive pressure is placed on a nerve due to either a herniated disk or an abnormal bone growth. This leads to an inflammatory response, causing pain and often resulting in partial loss of sensation in the affected leg.

Sciatica is of two types, and irrespective of the kind that affects you, the effects remain the same. The condition is classified as:

  • True Sciatica is a condition that occurs due to an injury that affects the sciatic nerve.
  • Sciatica-like conditions are similar to Sciatica but occur due to issues in the sciatica or other nerves.

Sciatica represents a more serious issue than just back pain. It indicates that your nerves are either compressed or irritated. While sciatica pain can be pretty intense, most cases can be effectively resolved within a few weeks with appropriate treatment.
An early investigation into the cause and initiation of treatment is of utmost importance in these cases. If neglected, Sciatica can cause permanent damage to the nerves. People with severe Sciatica, leg weakness, and bowel or bladder changes may require surgery.

Sciatica Risk Factors

Increasing age (peak 45 - 64 years)
Obesity / Overweight - mechanical stress on spine - degeneration of intervertebral disc
Strenuous physical activity - heavy manual labour, lifting heavy weights, sudden bending and twisting
Smoking - decreased pain threshold through sensitizing pain receptors from nicotine
Sedentary lifestyle
Wear and tear from sports and gyming

Sciatica: Causes, Symptoms & Warnings

Causes

When the sciatic nerve is compressed because of a bone spur or herniated disc, it results in Sciatica. In rare cases, Sciatica can also occur when bone tumours compress the sciatic nerve or if the nerves undergo damage due to uncontrolled chronic diabetes.
Following are some of the causes of Sciatica:
Image portrays a woman sitting on the bed, suffering from low back pain.
Bulging or herniated disc – Disc are like jelly like soft substance covered by outer rim. Jelly - like inner material can come out of its confines and pinch or inflame the nearby nerve
Tear and break down of disc leads to bulging disc with loss of height thereby compressing the nerve
Narrowing of spinal canal – As a part ageing process the space for the nerve to pass become narrower leading to stenosis and leg pain
When two vertebrae slip or slide over one another to produce the abnormal positioning of two vertebrae leading to compress the nerve
Spinal tumors are abnormal growth of cells that may be either benign or cancerous. However, when spinal tumor develops in the lumbar region it may compress the nerve producing sciatica
Abnormal fluid filled sacs in facet joints of spine causing spinal stenosis and sciatica
Piriformis muscle helps in hip extension and rotation of leg, attached sacral spine to the upper portions of the femur. Due to the proximity of the sciatic nerve, any injury or inflammation to the piriformis muscle can cause sciatica like pain
Especially during third trimester – Obstetrical sciatic nerve compression

Symptoms

We recommend you consult our doctors at Spine 360 if you feel any of the following symptoms:
  • Pain radiating down your legs.
  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Presence of blood in your urine
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence
  • High body temperature accompanied by back pain
  • Swelling or soreness in the back around the spine
  • Numb feeling in the upper pelvis, legs, buttocks, thighs, and legs
A man is standing in the office, experiencing low back pain.
A man with knee pain.

Warnings

Presence of following warnings needs emergency consultation by a spine specialist:
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Numbness around the genitals or around the anus
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Loss or difficulty in controlling when there is an urge pass urine (cauda equina syndrome)
  • Prolonged duration of pain (> 6 weeks)
  • Recurrent episodes of pain

Diagnostic Tests for Sciatica

At the outset, doctors at Spine 360 will make you perform some activities to evaluate your reflexes and check your muscle strength. For instance, you may be asked to get up from a squatting position, walk on your toes or heels, or lift your legs one after the other while lying in a prone position. However, if your pain and discomfort do not improve within a stipulated time, our experts may suggest the following diagnostic tests to further the course of your treatment:
The doctor is examining an x-ray image of the spine.
X-ray
Image of a person undergoing an MRI scan.
MRI scans
Image of CT Scan machine @Spine360.
CT scans

Non-Surgical Treatments for Sciatica

It’s not life life-threatening conditions, but it’s always good a visit a doctor.There are various and non-surgical and surgical options, later being considered when abnormality is detected on imaging
Home remedies
  • Hot or cold compression packs for comfort and reduce the pain
  • Bed rest with minimal activity (sitting up, walking in the house, use of rest room) until the acute pain subsides, prolonged best red is not recommended; a few hours of bed rest may provide some symptomatic relief but does not result in faster recovery.
Pharmacological intervention
  • Analgesic – oral or injection (in severe cases) after consultation with doctor
  • Muscle relaxants will be of benefit, But no role of steroid
Non-surgical intervention
  • Local epidural steroid injection if not relieved by medications
  • Electrotherapy - Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Traction
  • Not effective; Not recommended for spinal tumours

Sciatica: Surgical Treatments at Spine 360

At Spine 360, our medical professionals assess the suitability of surgery for sciatica based on the specific underlying cause. It is important to note that sciatica is a symptom that may arise from various spinal pathologies. The surgical options are:
A happy doctor with a stethoscope.

Relief From Sciatica is an Appointment Away

Start your journey towards relieving your debilitating Sciatica pain! Book an appointment with our experts.
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