Sciatica.. causes, symptoms and treatment

What is sciatica? And what are its symptoms? And can it happen in both legs? And what are its risk factors? And what is pseudo-sciatica?

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is nerve pain caused by injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which is the longest and thickest nerve (about the width of a finger) in the body.

If you suffer from “sciatica” you have mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve (American press)

The sciatic nerve consists of 5 nerve roots: two from the lower back region called the lumbar spine, and 3 from the last part of the spine called the sacrum.

The five nerve roots come together to form the left and right sciatic nerve. On each side of your body, a sciatic nerve passes through the hips, buttocks, and down the leg and ends just below the knee. Then the sciatic nerve branches into other nerves, which go down your leg to your foot and toes. That’s according to the Cleveland Clinic.

True injury to the sciatic nerve is actually rare, but the term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg. What this pain has in common is nerve injury and irritation, inflammation, pinching or pressure on a nerve in your lower back.

If you suffer from sciatica, you have mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve, anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, and/or down the legs. It can also cause muscle weakness in your leg. and your foot, numbness in your leg, and an uncomfortable tingling sensation in your leg, foot and toes.

Symptoms of sciatica

People describe sciatica pain in different ways, depending on the cause. Others describe the pain as sharp, fiery, or joltings of pain, and some describe the pain as “burning,” “electrical,” or “stabbing.”

The pain may be continuous or it may come and go. It can be more severe in your leg than in your lower back. It may get worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time. When you stand up and twist your upper body, you can trigger a forced and sudden body movement such as coughing or sneezing. to exacerbate the pain.

Can sciatica occur in both legs?

Sciatica usually affects only one leg at a time, however it may occur in both legs. It is simply a matter of where the nerve is compressing along the spine.

Does sciatica occur suddenly or does it take time to develop?

Sciatica can come on suddenly or gradually, depending on the cause. A disc herniation may cause sudden pain. Osteoarthritis of the spine develops slowly over time.

What are the risk factors for sciatica?

You are more likely to develop sciatica in the following cases:

  • If you have sustained an injury to your lower back or spine
  • aging
  • overweight
  • If you work in a job that requires heavy lifting, you may increase your risk of lower back problems, and jobs that require prolonged sitting may increase your risk of lower back problems.
  • Diabetes, which increases your chance of nerve damage, which increases your chance of developing sciatica
  • arthritis
  • Lead an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking, as the nicotine in tobacco can damage spinal tissue, weaken bones, and accelerate the erosion of intervertebral discs

Sciatica treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and increase your mobility. Many cases of sciatica clear up over time with some simple self-care treatments.

Self-care treatments include:

1- Applying ice and/or hot compresses

Use ice packs to reduce pain. Apply ice packs or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 20 minutes several times a day. Replace hot compresses or heating pads after the first few days. If you are still in pain, switch between hot compresses. And cold – whichever is better – to ease your discomfort.

2- Taking over-the-counter medications

Take medications to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. Many common over-the-counter medications in this class called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Be careful, if you choose to take aspirin it may cause sores and bleeding in some people, and if you are unable to take an NSAID, acetaminophen can be taken instead.

3- Perform gentle stretching exercises

Learn proper stretches from a trainer with experience in lower back pain. Do other general strengthening exercises, core strengthening and aerobic exercises.

Other treatment options include:

4- Prescribed medication

Your health care provider may prescribe muscle relaxants to relieve the discomfort associated with muscle cramps. Other medications that have an analgesic effect that may be tried include tricyclic antidepressants and antispasmodics depending on your level of pain. Prescription medications for pain may be used early in your treatment plan. .

5- Physiotherapy

The goal of physical therapy is to find exercise movements that reduce sciatica by reducing pressure on the nerve. Your exercise program should include stretching to improve muscle flexibility and aerobic exercises (such as walking, swimming, and water aerobics). Your health care provider can refer you to a physical therapist who will work With you to customize your stretching and aerobic program, other exercises are recommended to strengthen the muscles in your back, abdomen and legs.

6- Spinal injections

An injection of a corticosteroid, an anti-inflammatory medication, into the lower back may help reduce pain and swelling around the affected nerve roots. The injections provide a short time (usually up to 3 months) for pain relief and are given under local anesthesia as an outpatient treatment. You may feel some pressure Burning sensation while the injection is given. Ask your healthcare provider how many injections you may be able to receive and the risks of the injection.

When is surgery considered?

Spinal surgery is usually not recommended unless you have not improved with other treatments such as stretching and medication, or if your pain is getting worse, you have severe muscle weakness in your lower extremities, or you’ve lost control of your bladder or bowels.

The goal of spine surgery for sciatic pain is to decompress the pinched nerves and ensure that the spine is stable.

Can sciatica be prevented?

Not all risk factors for sciatica can be prevented, but taking these steps can help protect your back and reduce your risk:

1- Maintain good posture

Proper technique while sitting, standing, lifting and sleeping helps relieve pressure on your lower back. Pain can be an early warning sign that you are not aligning properly. If you begin to feel pain or stiffness, adjust your position.

2- Don’t smoke

Nicotine reduces the blood supply to the bones, weakens the spine and intervertebral discs, which increases pressure on the spine and discs and causes back and spine problems.

3- Maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight and a poor diet are associated with inflammation and pain throughout the body, the closer you are to your ideal body weight, the less stress on your spine.

4- Doing exercise regularly

Stretching exercises include keeping your joints flexible and strengthening your core, lower back and abdominal muscles. These muscles support your spine.

False sciatica

Pseudo-sciatica is the term used to describe the condition that arises when the peripheral areas of the sciatic nerve are compressed. The pressure is usually caused by tension that arises within the gluteal muscles, the very large muscles that actually make up the buttock area and help Thighs in motion efficiently.

The piriformis muscle or the psoas muscle may also cause tension.

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