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Sciatica is a phrase used to describe pain that radiates down the route of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower spine through your buttocks and down the back of your leg. It flares up when the sciatic nerve is inflamed or constricted by any of a number of lower back disorders.
Sciatica is a type of nerve pain.
A variety of nerve roots emerge from your lower spine. When any of these nerve roots on either side of your lower spine get inflamed or pinched, pain can spread to the sciatic nerve. The pain may radiate down the sciatic nerve, into the buttock, down the back of the leg, and into your foot and/or toes. It usually only affects one side of the body.
The sensation is distinct, typically characterised as a shooting, scorching agony in the buttock that extends down the back of the leg. Along the nerve, you may experience numbness, tingling, or burning. The nerve discomfort has been described as electric-like by some persons. Sciatica symptoms, on the other hand, may be felt as a continuous, dull discomfort.
Lumbar radicular discomfort and lumbar radiculopathy are medical names for sciatica.
Common lower back issues that result in sciatica
A lumbar herniated disc is the most prevalent cause of sciatica. Lumbar spinal stenosis, facet joint osteoarthritis, lumbar degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis are all common causes.
People may be enticed to self-diagnose and self-treat the wrong cause of their sciatica if the term sciatica is misused. Knowing the underlying reason for your sciatica symptoms is critical for receiving the appropriate treatment.
Some conditions are similar to sciatica.
Many individuals refer to any form of leg pain as sciatica, however there are many reasons of leg pain that are not medically categorised as sciatica and require distinct treatment.
Examples of non-sciatica conditions that might generate comparable symptoms include:
- Spinal joint dysfunction. Pain may radiate from the spinal joints to the leg. This is not technically sciatica, and the therapy is different. For example, joint deterioration caused by spinal arthritis may generate sciatica-like pain.
- Dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint. Too much or too little motion in the sacroiliac joints can create sciatica-like discomfort that travels down your leg. Treatment for sacroiliac joint dysfunction is often non-surgical, with the goal of restoring normal joint motion. If the discomfort is severe and incapacitating, sacroiliac joint fusion is an option.
- Piriformis syndrome creates symptoms that are similar to sciatica. It happens when the piriformis muscle in the buttocks stimulates the sciatic nerve, causing pain to spread down the nerve’s route into your leg. Because the nerve irritation does not begin in the lower back, this form of pain is not technically sciatica. Piriformis syndrome is typically treated with anti-inflammatory medicines and specialised physical therapy.
It is not a good idea to self-diagnose sciatica.
Because numerous underlying disorders can cause sciatic pain, it is critical to seek medical attention for a clinical diagnosis. While it is uncommon, sciatica-like pain can be caused by medical disorders that require quick attention, such as:
- A tumour in the spine
- Infection of the spine
- The Cauda Equina Syndrome
While the vast majority of causes of sciatica symptoms are not significant, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor if you are experiencing any concerning symptoms.
If you experience pain in your buttocks or leg, as well as numbness, tingling, or other neurological symptoms in your leg, you should consult a doctor for a clinical diagnostic that determines the origin of your symptoms.
Reading the peer-reviewed publications on this site will show you that treatment might vary greatly depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms. As an example:
- While bending forward at the waist may be comfortable if you have spinal stenosis, it may cause significant pain if you have a lumbar herniated disc.
- If you have sciatica due to spondylolisthesis, your doctor may recommend fusion surgery to correct and stabilise the afflicted segment before engaging in any type of exercise.
For long-term pain treatment, commit to a graded exercise programme.
When your doctor gives you the green light, make a concerted effort to stick to a controlled and progressive fitness programme. Without it, your symptoms would most certainly recur and worsen over time.
There are several alternatives for providing enough pain relief to allow you to engage in exercise and physical therapy, including the use of cold and heat, pain medications, and maybe an epidural steroid injection. Physical therapists and spinal specialists can create a pain reduction treatment plan that will allow you to exercise comfortably.
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