A lot of people think that leg pain equates to sciatica pain. However, you may want to rethink that. While sciatica has several possible causes, the symptoms are usually limited to growing pain and discomfort felt in the hip, buttocks, and down to the leg.
Aside from the pain, sciatica symptoms may also include sensations associated with the nerve – or sometimes, lack of them – including weakness, numbness, and feelings that may make you feel some electricity or vibration. These sensations can also be as minor as pins and needles or very major in the form of shooting pain, burning, or shock. Additionally, sciatica can bring low back pain.
Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of sciatica pain is an irritation or impingement of a nerve root in the spinal region, also called radiculopathy. A herniated disc is the usual culprit of the impingement. However, when any arthritis-related issues block the area where the spinal root nerve passes, also called spondylolisthesis; this is where the vertebra slides forward, which can also be the cause of sciatica. Additionally, for women, pregnancy is another potential cause; this is due to the developing fetus putting pressure and tension on the sciatic nerve.
Another potential cause is the piriformis syndrome, which is when there is tightening in the buttock muscle. This condition may ultimately give rise to the symptoms of sciatica pain.
In the beginning, the pain may not be as intense; however, the intensity may develop, and sometimes to unendurable levels. While it’s possible to experience sciatica on all sides of the body, the actual pain is commonly felt on only one side. This is due to the spinal nerve roots that get irritated. These spinal nerve roots have left, and right pairs; the pressure they experience tends to occur asymmetrically, where only one side is affected.
When is Sciatica a Medical Emergency?
Something more grave is going on when the sciatica symptoms develop into paralysis in the buttock region. If this is the case, especially if the patient is experiencing bladder dysfunctions, and disrupted bowels, then it’s highly recommended to seek immediate medical care. Saddle anesthesia, bladder dysfunctions, disrupted bowels, and gradual weakening of the legs can be signs of cauda equina syndrome. This is a dire medical condition and is classified as a medical emergency.
Conservative therapies are the usual go-to treatments for sciatica pain. This means the patient needs to take medication accompanied by physical therapy, where a home exercise program must be followed on a daily basis. The exercises will most likely vary according to what the causes of the symptoms are.
For instance, if the sciatica is made worse or is caused by spinal stenosis, the goal is to increase the strength of the patient’s lower body. This is a way to make up for the loss of spinal strength that comes with this type of condition. No matter what the cause of the sciatica pain is, it’s always ideal to get in a pain-free zone when a patient does his or her exercises.
A lot of people get surgery for the radiculopathy symptoms, which as we’ve mentioned, is the most common type of sciatica. However, a study by the European Journal of Pain concluded that while surgery can help in lessening the pain and disability in patients, this is only a short-term solution. Many patients still experienced mild to moderate pain and discomfort even after the surgery, some even years after the spine procedure.
Sciatica Symptoms Because of a Slipped Disc
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS) stated that if the sciatica symptoms are because of a slipped disc, or a disc that bulges past the typical boundaries of the spinal region, the symptoms typically go away on their own in a month or two. NIAMS reported that this is the case for about 90 percent of people who have sciatica because of a slipped disc. After a month, the symptoms squandering on their own lessens, which may require physical therapy or surgery.
Even while sciatica pain and other causes are common, there are still some measures you can do to help prevent it the condition. Here are some of them:
- Have a good posture when standing, sitting, or walking.
- Do exercises that maintain strength and flexibility of your spinal and abdominal muscles.
- Make sure that the back is well supported when you are sitting down.
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
I am a Family Doctor in Atlanta, GA. Married to the beautiful, Susan with two sweet girls. I enjoy golfing on occasion.
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I mentioned to him that I have been domain searching and was in need of finding a way to bring information to the public regarding my family medicine practice. He was kind enough to give me the rights to own this one. I realized that creating this site benefits society in various ways by showing the many options available to relieve family stress and worry via modern medicine.