Definition of Sciatica
It is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself. Instead, it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Sciatic pain typically radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. Common lower back problems that can cause sciatica are a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis.
Symptoms of Sciatica
- Constant pain in only 1 side of the buttock or leg (rarely both legs)
- Pain is worse when sitting
- Leg pain that is often described as burning or tingling.
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot and/or toes
- Sharp pain that make it difficult to stand or walk
- Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes.
- Sciatica pain can vary from infrequent and irritating to constant. Symptoms are usually based
on the location of the pinched nerve.
Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica
- Largest single nerve in the body
- Made up of individual nerve roots that start branching out from the spine in the lower back and then combine to form the ‘sciatic curve’.
- Symptoms occur when this large nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin.
When does Sciatica become serious?
These symptoms are rare, however, if it were to happen, immediate medical attention should be provided:
- Progressive Neurological Symptoms such as leg weakness.
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction (Cauda Equina Syndrome)
- Infections and spinal tumours.
- Ice: Helps alleviate the leg pain and reduce inflammation at the injured area and surrounding tissues.
- Physiotherapy: Ultrasound therapy & Interferential therapy (IFT) to reduce muscle spasm, oxygenate the tissues and speed up the recovery process.
- Pain medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs can be consumed to reduce the inflammation. Examples of such drugs
include arcoxia and ibuprofen. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed for short term to alleviate pain.
- Back and abdominal stretches: Targets to improve the core strength. Relieve back pain by holding stretches long enough for at least 20-30 seconds.