Sciatica in itself is the name given to the set of symptoms experienced by someone when their sciatic nerve is pinched.
Because of its structure, the nerve branches out of a human’s lumbar spine and down the back of both legs. Sciatica can affect one or both of these nerve branches. Although cases of bilateral sciatica are rare, they still affect a small percentage of the population.
Bilateral sciatica, which we will be talking about today, occurs when both branches of the sciatic nerve are affected and cause symptoms.
As previously stated, sciatica itself occurs when one of the spinal nerve roots is being compressed. Below are some of the reasons why this nerve becomes compressed:
· A herniated disc – herniated discs can compress the sciatic nerve and lead to sciatica pain;
· Degenerative disc disease
· Isthmic spondylolisthesis in which the disk might slip forward over another due to some fracture thus pinching the sciatic nerve;
· Spinal stenosis – the spinal canal (through which nerves pass) becomes narrower; this can put pressure on the sciatic nerve; then the nerve is compressed, which lead to sciatica;
· Piriformis syndrome – the piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttocks area, compresses the sciatic nerve;
· Cauda equina syndrome – a medical condition where cauda equina, a group of nerves situated in the lower part of the spinal cord have been compressed; sciatic nerve pain can be a symptom of this syndrome;
· Sciatica may also be triggered during pregnancy as the body undergo changes during this time;
· Other causes such as a muscle spasm, nerve damage, spinal tumour, infection.
The main characteristic symptoms of sciatica are pain, weakness or numbness in your lower back and the back of your leg. Sometimes these symptoms can extend to your feet or even toes. Below you can find a more in-depth list of (bilateral) sciatica symptoms:
1. Continuous pain in one side of the lower body (buttock, leg, thigh, calf). In bilateral sciatica both sides of the lower body are affected.
2. The pain originates in the lower back and radiates down along the entire length of the sciatic nerve all the way to the foot
3. Pain that is usually very intense, and might even make it difficult to walk or even stand up
4. A sensation that can be described as prickling or tingling like being pricked with needles running down the leg
5. Numbness when trying to move the leg or foot.
6. Depending on the location where the sciatic nerve is pinched, the pain may be felt in a person’s toes as well
7. Lower back pain, although rare, might be milder in intensity that the pain felt along the leg(s)
8. In more severe cases, this condition can affect a person’s ability to control their bladder.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to correctly pinpoint the cause of your pain, it is important to seek medical advice and obtain a diagnosis. This way, your doctor/ specialist can also rule out the existence of a different medical condition that is causing you these symptoms.
The way a diagnosis is carried out can vary depending on the findings of your physician. At first, your doctor will carry out a physical examination of the affected area. If he/she discovers something that represents a cause for concern, you might be referred to have further tests, such as an MRI scan, to either confirm your condition, or to rule out other possible causes of your pain.
When it comes to treatment options, seeking long term pain relief should be the goal in treating sciatica. However, it must be kept in mind that the solution should be as natural as possible.
Treatment of sciatica depends on the severity of your symptoms.
- Medication – which can offer temporary relief from pain
- Physical therapy – the most recommended method of treatment due to its efficacy, results, and lack of side effects. It can work even for chronic sciatica sufferers, although seeing the effects of this form of treatment might take longer
- Specific injections (such as muscle relaxants) that target the sciatic nerve – just like with medication, these also provide only temporary relief
- For very extreme cases, and as last resort, surgery is considered as an option
If none of these treatment options sound appealing to you, check out our solution below.
Spinal Backrack Technology
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