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Sciatica

 

Sciatica is nerve pain experienced in the buttock and leg and arises from pressure on the sciatic nerve or nerves in the lower back. The sciatica nerve stems from the nerve roots that originate from the spinal cord and is very large. It plays a pivotal role in controlling sensation and function of the leg and foot.  

 

The pressure on the sciatic nerve can be caused by a slipped vertebral disc, pinched nerves or some forms of arthritis. Sciatica is most commonly a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Sciatica pain can vary, causing either constant or infrequent pain of varying degrees.      

 

Causes  

There are a number of causes of sciatica pertaining to the spinal cord, and additionally other causes include:  

  • Pregnancy,  
  • Scar tissue,  
  • Muscle strain,  
  • Spinal tumour,  
  • Infection.      

 

Symptoms  

Generally, sciatica effects one side of the lower body, with the pain stemming from the lower back, travelling down to the back of the thigh and then through the leg. Symptoms of sciatica include:  

  • Aching pain in the buttock, back of thigh and calf,  
  • Pain in the ankle and foot,  
  • Sharp and shearing pain,  
  • A sensation of ‘pins-and-needles’,  
  • A sensation of numbness or weakness down one leg.      

 

Management

Treatment for sciatica is essential for the prevention of ongoing pain. Normally, nonsurgical treatment and specific exercises are sufficient in eliminating or reducing pain caused by sciatica. Some of these treatments include:  

  • Medication to reduce pain and inflammation,  
  • Heat/ice packs to alleviate pain in the leg in the initial phase of sciatica,  
  • Chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy and massage treatment,  
  • Acupuncture,  
  • Epidural injections,  
  • Surgery (in severe cases and as a last resort).      

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.  

 

Sources  

Spine Health http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-you-need-know-about-sciatica  

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Sciatica