1. What is sciatica?
Sciatica usually refers to pain that begins in the lower back and radiates all along the back of the thigh and leg. The pain can be sudden and short-lived or chronic.
2. What are the common causes of sciatica?
Sciatica is mainly due to the irritation of the lower roots of the lumbar spine. Conditions that may cause sciatica are degenerative disc disease, lumbar canal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, muscle spasms in the back and buttocks, obesity and pregnancy.
3. When do you need to consult a doctor for sciatica?
One should consult a doctor for sciatica when the symptoms, such as pain along the back of the thigh, numbness and weakness, do not subside even after few days of self-care. One should seek emergency care if there is loss of sensation in the legs or bladder control.
4. How will the doctor diagnose sciatica?
Sciatica can be diagnosed through a clinical and neurological exam after noting a person's symptoms. The doctor will also ask for imaging tests, such as CT scan or MRI, to look for a herniated disc or lumbar stenosis and know the exact cause.
5. What are the lifestyle changes that will help in improving the symptoms?
The risk of sciatica can be reduced by lifestyle changes, such as avoiding sitting for longer duration, giving up smoking to prevent disc generation, lifting weights by keeping the back straight and performing muscle stretches to open the hips.