Sciatica Pain Facts
- Sciatica is not necessarily difficult to cure.
- Sciatica can be very difficult to diagnose accurately. The number one reason why so many patients never recover is their inability to achieve a correct diagnosis.
- Sciatica can be caused by a harmless, but incredibly painful ischemic process. This entails oxygen deprivation of the nerves and/or muscles in a regional area.
- Sciatica does not usually result from typical spinal degeneration
- Sciatica is best treated non-surgically and non-pharmaceutical, whenever possible
- Exercise will temporarily provide symptomatic relief from ischemic sciatic nerve pain conditions
Sciatica Pain Overview
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb. The Sciatica Pain is sometimes referred to as sciatic nerve pain. Irritation of sciatic nerve is largely responsible for causing Sciatic Nerve Pain. The pain related with this condition is often felt in the low back region from behind the thigh and it tends to radiate below the knee. In many cases this condition is caused by disc herniation or inflammation or irritation of the nerve because of some other reasons. The irritation or inflammation of nerve causing Sciatic Nerve Pain may also result from tumors or infections and internal bleeding as well.
Sciatica Pain Causes
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. This is a narrowing of certain areas in your spine, which causes lumbar or sacral nerves to become pinched.
- Spondylolisthesis. This condition is frequently caused by degenerative disk disease. A slipped vertabra becomes positioned over another, causing the sciatic nerve to become pinched.
- Piriformis Syndrome. When this muscle, which starts at the lower spine and connects to your femur, tightens or spasms, you will feel pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal Tumors. While this is the least frequent cause of sciatic pain, the increased pressure caused by tumors can introduce or instigate the condition.
- Trauma. Falling, being in a car accident or any other damage to the lower back can cause pinched nerves.
- Pregnancy. The increased weight of the baby can cause additional stress on the lower back, leading to pinched nerves.
- Unidentifiable Causes. While rare, your doctor may not be able to identify the cause of your pain.
Sciatica Pain Symptoms
Sciatica causes pain, a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling radiating from the lower back and upper buttock down the back of the thigh to the back of the leg. The result is lumbar pain, buttock pain, hip pain, and leg pain. Sometimes the pain radiates around the hip or buttock to feel like hip pain. While sciatica is often associated with lower back pain (lumbago), it can be present without low back pain. Severe sciatica can make walking difficult if not impossible. Sometimes the symptoms of sciatica are aggravated by walking or bending at the waist and relieved by lying down. The pain relief by changing positions can be partial or complete.
Sciatica Pain Diagnosis
A physical exam will be performed and normally a set of preliminary x-ray films will be taken if a spinal source is suspected. If further imaging studies are needed, an MRI or CT scan might be prescribed to determine if any herniated discs, degenerated discs or spinal stenosis are present and causative.
If one of these conditions is discovered, the sciatic pain will most likely be attributed to this cause. Although research clearly shows that many mild to moderate spinal abnormalities are usually innocent and not problematic, this fact is often ignored and blame is laid on the imaged spinal issue regardless.
Sciatica Pain Treatment
- Readily available nonsurgical remedies and regular exercise will go a long way to relieving their pain.
- Physical therapy. If you have a herniated disk, physical therapy can play a vital role in your recovery. Once acute pain improves, your doctor or a physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help prevent recurrent injuries.
- Prescription drugs. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication along with a muscle relaxant. Narcotics also may be prescribed for short-term pain relief. Tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsant drugs also can help ease chronic pain.
- Surgery. For others, when the pain is severe or does not get better on its own, a more structured treatment approach, and possibly Surgery, may offer the best approach to finding pain relief and preventing or minimizing future flare-ups of sciatica.