What is sciatica?

Sciatica
Sciatica

Sciatica is pain resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord and link to the lower back. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back and all the way down to the buttock, then it branches out to the calf, the leg and the foot. The pain of sciatica is naturally felt from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down to below the knee.

What causes sciatica?

The common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine that is pressing on the sciatic nerve. Other condition to the spine can also cause sciatica, they are:

  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (Spinal stenosis)
  • Bone spurs form along the spine joints which is called Arthritis
  • Nerve root compression (pinched nerve) which caused by a back injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumours

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Symptoms of sciatica include pain at the lower back or buttock area radiating down to the thigh, leg and foot. You may also feel weakness, tingling sensation or numbness in the leg.

  • Sitting or standing for a long time may worsen the symptoms
  • Walking or lying down can help to reduce the symptoms

How is sciatica diagnosed?

Sciatica is diagnosed with physical examination as well as MRI. Our specialist may also ask about your medical history.

How is sciatica treated?

Treatments for sciatica to address the underlying cause include:

What are the complications of sciatica?

Because sciatica is caused by pressure on a nerve in your spine, complications may develop if the pressure is not relieved. Possible complications of unrelieved nerve compression include:

Increased pain
A slipped or herniated disc
Loss of feeling or weakness in your affected leg
Loss of bowel or bladder function
Permanent nerve damage

When should I see a Sciatica Specialist?

Call your spine specialist if:

Your pain worsens
You lose feeling in your affected leg, or notice weakness in your leg
You develop problems with your bowels or bladder
Your pain returns after successful treatment of your sciatica

Key points about sciatica

Sciatica most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
It is pain that starts along your sciatic nerve and spreads down your buttock and the back of 1 thigh.
It is usually caused by a herniated (or bulging) disk in your spine that presses on your sciatic nerve.

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