Sciatica – A Nerve Pain - Dream Health

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Friday 9 May 2014

Sciatica – A Nerve Pain

Sciatica is a nerve pain caused from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body running from the back of the pelvis though the buttocks all the way down both legs and ending at the feet.

 When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it tends to cause pain which radiates out from the lower back travelling down the leg to the calf which may range from being mild or very painful. Sciatica pain is normally felt from the lower back to the back of the thigh and radiating down below the knee.

The symptoms of Sciatica is constant pain on one side of the buttock or leg, in rare cases may occur in both legs, with burning or tingling sensation down the leg, pain that may worsen on sitting, sharp shooting pain which may make it difficult to stand up or walk, weakness, numbness or even difficulty in moving the leg or the foot.

Common Cause - Slipped Disc

This pain may vary from infrequent and irritating to constant and specific sciatica symptoms may also vary widely in location, type and severity depending on the condition causing the pain like a lumbar herniated disc and though the symptoms could be very painful, instances are rare that permanent sciatic nerve damage or tissue damage may occur.

The most common cause of sciatica is a slipped disc though in some cases there is no evident cause and in less common causes may include spinal stenosis or narrowing of the nerve passages in the spine, infection or a growth in the spine, injury.

Cauda Equina Syndrome 

In rare cases, sciatica symptoms which worsen quickly may need immediate surgery. Symptoms which continue to get worse instead of improving may indicate a possibility of nerve damage especially if the progressive symptoms seem to be neurological like a feeling or weakness. Symptoms which may occur in both the legs known as bilateral sciatica may cause either bowel or bladder incontinence or dysfunction indicating cauda equina syndrome which is an acute compression of one or several nerve roots that may occur very rarely. If a person experiences these symptoms, the need for immediate medical attention would be essential.

Acute/Chronic Sciatica

Some lower back problems may lead to pain which may radiate along the sciatic nerve while most of the sciatica pain is caused when the L5 or S1 nerve root which is in the lower spine get irritated by a herniated disc. When this occurs, the pain radiates in the rear and the back of the thigh as well as the calf and at times may extend down to the foot.

There is also a feeling of numbness, tingling, prickling or burning sensation which is common in sciatica symptoms. Most of the short term or acute sciatica passes off without the need of treatment. With the combination of over the counter painkiller, exercises, hot or cold pack may tend to relieve the symptoms of sciatica.

In case of persistent sciatica or chronic, one is advised to undertake a structured exercise program under the supervision of a physiotherapist and in very rare case one may need to undergo surgery in order to control the symptoms.

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