What Is Sciatica? Symptoms And Causes

Sciatica is a condition under which there is an excruciating or shooting pain in the leg, which starts from the back of the thigh and goes down the leg, making sitting and standing extremely difficult. The problem of sciatica occurs when there is a disruption in the normal functioning of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is made up from the sacral and lumbar nerve roots in the spine and extends from the spinal cord’s lower end while passing behind the hip joint and finally running down the thigh. The function of the nerve is to receive instructions from the brain, transfer them to the muscles of the lower limbs and send information regarding sensation from the legs to the brain.Symptoms of sciaticaMuscular and sensory abnormalities can be induced in cases of sciatica. The person feels a tingling, burning or numbing sensation in the thighs and legs. Weakness in the legs can also be felt. Other than this, other common symptoms include cramping sensation in the thigh and shooting pain down the leg. The symptoms are worsened with maneuvers like coughing and squatting as they exert pressure on the nerve.Causes of sciaticaSciatica is caused when there is disruption in the normal working of the sciatic nerve. The most common cause of this is herniated spinal disc in which the normal cushioning between the vertebrae is ruptured thereby causing pressure on the nearby nerves, the sciatic nerve being one of them. The hernia in the vertebra of the spine pushes the discs against the nerves causing pain, weakness and other symptoms. Other reasons that cause sciatica are:Spondylolisthesis: when one of the vertebrae of the spine goes out of line as compared to the one above it, then it narrows the opening from where the nerve exits, causing pain.Spinal stenosis: under this condition, the spinal canal is narrowed causing pressure on the nerves.Piriformis syndrome: the piriformis muscle in the buttocks when tightens causes pressure on the sciatic nerve causing pain and weakness.Treatments for sciaticaSciatica treatment is associated with the treatment of symptoms that cause the inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The treatment methods include rest, anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy and exercise. Heat and ice packs are soothing for the muscles that pain during a sciatica attack. In addition, epidural steroid injections are injected directly in the inflamed areas to relieve pain in severe cases. In other cases, where the abovementioned treatment methods fail, surgery may be the last resort.

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