Sciatica or sciatica pain is a condition that results from the irritation or compression of one of the spinal nerve roots located at the back of the leg. The extent of this compression or the physical make-up of the individual determines the symptoms of sciatica.
The range of symptoms could include a tingling sensation or numbness in the lower back, buttock or foot to acute episodes of pain or even difficulty in moving the leg. Rarely does sciatica affect both legs. However, sciatica pain is actually a symptom of a disorder and not a diagnosis in itself. As a result, symptoms are depending on the origin of the sciatic condition. The serious causes may even result in issues including the functioning of internal organs. Treatment for sciatica also varies based on the root cause of the sciatica pain.
Cause-based Symptoms of Sciatica
Some of the factors commonly causing sciatica are spinal stenosis, spinal disc herniation, piriformis syndrome, and spinal trauma caused by accidents.
- Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis or lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal that results in the spinal cord or the sciatic nerve roots getting compressed. Various factors such as spinal disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, bone spurs and inflammation can contribute to this condition. This leads to the irritation of the nerves traveling from the spinal cord to the sciatic nerves, causing sciatica pain.
- Spinal Disc Herniation
Spinal disc herniation results when the liquid from within the nucleus pulposus (the center of a disc in the spinal cord) bulges or herniates outside into the spinal canal and compressing a nerve root. The resulting swelling and inflammation of the surrounding tissue cause the sciatica pain. This sciatic condition subsides with the healing of the disc tear and ceasing of the inflammation.
- Spinal Tumors
Sciatica is also a symptom caused by spinal tumors appearing on the nerve roots or the spinal cord. This causes severe pain in the hips, back and feet as well as muscle weakness and even loss of control of the bowels and the bladder. Treatment for sciatica in these cases would inevitably require surgery.
- Piriformis Syndrome
The piriformis syndrome occurs in individuals who have the anomaly of the sciatic nerve running through the piriformis muscle instead of below it. Any shortening or spasms in this muscle could compress the sciatic nerve.
- Sciatica Treatment
Most sciatica conditions appear in middle aged individuals (except in the case of sciatica caused by accidents). Non-surgical sciatica treatment consisting of massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation, administration of anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs and oral medication, exercising, and applying heat and ice packs could provide sciatica pain relief.
There are surgical as well as non-surgical methods such as chiropractic care for sciatica pain relief. Comprehensive healthcare centers provide effective sciatica treatment.