The largest single nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve, runs from the lower back, down the back of each leg and its composition isfrom individual nerve roots that start branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine forming the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is not a Disease:
Sciatica (sigh-at-ih-kah) by itself is not a disease but a symptom of a medical condition and can be recognized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty in walking or standing up.
- Constant pain in one side of the buttock, the lower back or leg (almost never in both legs)
- Tingling or burning down the leg
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Difficulty moving,weakness or numbness in the foot or leg
Most Common Causes of Sciatica:
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Caused by irritation of the sacroiliac joint.
- Pregnancy: A shift on one’s center of gravity,hormonal changesand weight gain, can cause sciatica during pregnancy.
- Lumbar herniated disc: Sometimes referred to as a ruptured disc, slipped disc, protruding disc, bulging disc, or a pinched nerve.
- Spinal tumor: The nerve root can be pinched bythe tumors in the lower back.
- Degenerative disc disease: Diagnosed when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that spinal level, and inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the area.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: Characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Scar tissue: Occurs when a scar tissue compresses the nerve root.
- Piriformis syndrome: Caused by the piriformis muscle pinches a nerve root of the sciatic nerve.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: Small stress fracture results in a vertebral body to slip forward on another.
- Muscle strain: Inflammation from a muscle strain can put pressure on a nerve root.
Possible Treatment Options:
Most doctors recommend resting in bed. Other treatment options for sciatica include medications to relieve inflammation and pain (including injectable and oral cortisone) and massage, physical therapy and relax muscles. Lower back stretching exercises and conditioning help aggravate the symptoms of sciatica. For persisting sciatica that is caused by nerve compression at the lower spine, surgical procedures can sometimes be required.