Sciatica is a diagnosis meaning the sciatic nerve is irritated in some fashion. The irritation can cause a variety of symptoms, pain, tingling and numbness included. To understand what sciatica is, what causes it and how it is treated, we first need to understand a little bit about the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the single largest peripheral nerve in the human body. Its function is to transmit messages between the brain and the body’s muscles. The brain sends the messages to the muscle which sends signals about pain and other sensations back to the brain via the nerve. The sciatic nerve is made up of the lumbar and sacral nerve roots located in the lower segments of the spine. From the lower part of the spine, the nerve travels behind the hip and down into the thigh.
What Are Sciatica Symptoms?
Sciatica symptoms are few and fairly distinct. Not everyone experiences all the symptoms or the same degree. Below are the common symptoms associated with damage to the sciatic nerve:
- Leg pain that resembles an electric shock travelling through the leg
- Weakness in muscles along the sciatic nerve
Participating in movements such as squatting or even coughing may cause the intensity of these symptoms to worsen because they put extra pressure on the nerve.
What Causes Sciatica?
The most frequent cause of sciatica is a back injury known as a herniated disc in the spine. The cushion between the vertebras ruptures, forcing the disc to move into areas normally inhabited by nerves. When the nerves are compressed, the symptoms are triggered. Besides back injury, conditions including piriformis syndrome, spinal stenosis and others can cause sciatica.
Who Is Affected?
Sciatica is not a back health issue which normally affects children or adolescents. It usually comes on suddenly as the result of an injury or because the person over exerted themselves. Usually people who experience sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50.
To reduce pain and increase the ability to move, often a combination of treatments are used. Sleeping on a firm mattress or a hard floor for limited periods of time can help. Physical therapy and medication to relieve pain and inflammation are also useful. Medications might include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers. Some anti-inflammatories are injected directly into the spine.
Back surgery like the AccuraScope procedure may be needed in cases that do not respond to the aforementioned treatments. Two back types of back surgery are commonly used to treat sciatica: microdiscectomy and laminectomy. With the former, pieces of the fragmented disc are surgically removed. With the latter, the bone that covers the spine, called the lamina and tissue pressing on the sciatic nerve are removed. The AccuraScope procedure is a minimally invasive advancement in surgical options. Can you imagine living without pain from sciatica?read more