The Sciatic Nerve: What You Need to Know About This Common Source of Pain
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs. This can cause pain to travel down the sciatic nerve, which can be very severe.
Sciatica is a common source of pain, and it can be very debilitating. It is important to know the symptoms, causes, and treatments of sciatica so that you can get the help you need.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of sciatica can vary depending on the person. Some people experience mild pain, while others experience severe pain that can make it difficult to move. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs
- Numbness or tingling in the legs
- Weakness in the legs
- Difficulty moving the legs
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor so they can diagnose the cause of the pain and develop a treatment plan.
What can cause of sciatica?
This occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. The cause is normally due to a herniated disc in the spine or an overgrowth of bone (boney spurs) that form on the spine. Much more rarely a tumour can put pressure on the nerve.
Some people that may be at a higher risk for this to occur are:
Age: Age related changes in the spine, such as herniated discs and bone spurs are the most common cause and have a higher correlation as age increases.
Obesity: Being overweight puts more stress and force through the spine.
Occupation: Having a job that requires twisting, carrying heavy loads or driving for long periods of time.
Prolonged sitting: People lead sedentary lives or people who sit the majority of the day have higher likelihood of developing sciatica.
Diabetes: This condition which affects the blood sugar levels can increase the risk of nerve damage.
What treatments are available?
There are a number of treatments that can help relieve the pain of sciatica. These include over-the-counter pain reliever, hot and cold compress, and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve. The physical therapy will play a key role in preventing this from returning. Having a strong back and core muscles will allow for better posture which is typically how it is caused.
If you are experiencing pain in your lower back or legs, be sure to see a doctor to rule out sciatica. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor can recommend the best course of treatment for you.
The sciatic nerve is a common source of pain that can radiate from the lower back down the leg. There are several possible causes of sciatic nerve pain, including herniated disks, spinal stenosis, and piriformis syndrome. Treatment options include physical therapy, medication, and surgery. If you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain, contact us for more information, where we can book you in for an MRI and a consultation.