What is Sciatic Nerve Pain or Sciatica?
The pain or other neurological symptoms felt along the sciatic nerve are known as” Sciatica”. In fact, sciatica refers to a problematic sciatic nerve, and is not a medical diagnosis per se. It is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. There are many reasons why a healthy sciatic nerve can become problematic.
On the other hand, when a problem with the sciatic nerve is removed, the sciatica-related pain disappears as well.
Anatomy of the Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the human body and is responsible for the connectivity of the lower limbs with the brain. This very special nerve emerges from lumbar- spinal cord in the low back area. From there it extends further through the buttocks and into the thighs.
Just above the back of the knee, it divides into two nerves – called Tibial and Peroneal nerves – which innervate the different lower parts of the legs. The sciatic nerve carries nerve-signals to and from the muscles and skin of the thighs, lower legs and feet.
What Are the Known Triggers of Sciatica?
Some of the most common causes of a problematic sciatic nerve are:
- Lumbar herniated disks.
- Degenerative disc disease.
- Bone spurs that impinge on the nerve.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal).
- Piriformis syndrome.
- Sacroiliac joint syndrome.
Most commonly, sciatica starts with a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine. Your vertebrae (the basic unit that makes up your spine) are separated and cushioned by round shaped connective tissues. A disc may get worn down either because of an injury or use over the years (ageing spine). The soft centre of the spinal disc, nucleus pulposus, can begin to press on the sciatic nerve, protruding out of the hard outer ring around, annulus fibrosis.
This very pressure on the sciatic nerve or impingement of the nerve makes its appearance in the form of sciatica. You can say that sciatica is the result of nerve compression in the lumbar spine (lower back). In medical terms sciatica is called lumbar radiculopathy; only because the pain radiates into lower extremity directly along the course of the sciatic nerve.
How Does Sciatica Present Itself?
Sciatica makes its manifestation in different symptoms, depending on where exactly the sciatic nerve is affected/pinched, and the degree of compression.
Symptoms of sciatica include:
- Persistent pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (sciatica rarely involves both legs, but it is a possibility, and when it does, it is referred to as bilateral sciatica).
- Pain that gets worse when sitting down for long periods of time.
- Leg pain, as well as an unusual, unpleasant feeling in the affected leg often described as burning, tingling, numbness.
- A sharp pain that makes it difficult to walk or stand up.
- Pain that radiates down the leg and even to the foot and toe (though it rarely targets the foot and toe).
- Sometimes muscle weakness in the lower back or legs may be present as well.
Sciatica has got multiple ways through which it can affect a person. It can range just from an uncomfortable feeling to a serious pain. Sciatic pain can vary from infrequent mild aches to a constant intolerable condition.
Sometimes it can exhibit symptoms that overlap with other issues that affect the lower back, such as cauda equina syndrome, and cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling and pins and needles sensations.
It can exhibit itself immediately after an injury or may appear slowly and mysteriously over a period of weeks/months. It might be short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic).
Commonly, sciatica is thought to be pain typically felt from the lower back to behind the thigh and can radiate down the leg or foot.
Who Does Sciatica Affect?
People between 30-50 years of age are more likely to get sciatica. Pregnant women have to be very careful, as they have a greater chance of getting a herniated disc and developing sciatica because of an increase in weight and added pressure on the spine.
Similarly, people who carry extra weight are at a higher risk of developing sciatica as the weight itself it can put extra pressure on the spine.
Lots of heavy-lifting or prolonged sitting can damage your discs as well.
How to Treat Sciatic Nerve Pain
It is possible to treat sciatica in a non-invasive natural way by engaging in physical therapy or by using a special orthopaedic device called the Spinal Backrack. What the device does is to decompress your spine, stretching it out and removing any stress that may be placed along the sciatic nerve. Once that pressure is gone and there is nothing pressing against the sciatic nerve, the pain shall subside as well.
Backrack Device Works Directly On The Cause Of Back Pain
Author: Spinal Backrack