Sciatic Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve happens to be the largest nerve in our body and it runs from the lower back region to the lower limb. When this nerve gets irritated, it causes a lot of pain in the lower back and buttocks region and it is usually called Sciatica. The main cause for this condition is said to be the herniation of the disc and this puts pressure on the nerve causing a lot of pain. When it comes to treating this condition, it is done based on various factors like the overall health condition and the severity of the pain. In normal cases, the pain will usually subside after a few weeks and there is no need for elaborate treatment. However, in extreme cases, even surgery may be needed to treat this condition.

Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain

-  Sciatica from S1 nerve root : When the pain begins from this specific nerve root, it can affect the foot and there will be numbness in that area. Along with that, patients will also face general weakness that results in difficulty in walking.

-  Sciatica from L4 nerve root : when the pain begins from this spot in the lower back region, the pain is felt in the lower region of the legs and it can also affect the foot. Patients will have difficulty in walking along the heels in this situation.

-  Sciatica from L5 nerve root : When this region is affected, patients will have pain in the top region of the foot and particularly in the big toe region. It is common to notice that the big toe cannot be stretched in this situation without causing pain.

Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain

- It is common for people to experience pain in the lower back region when they are suffering from sciatica. This can also extend to the butt region and you will notice that the problem will be more with increased pain during the sitting position.

- Many people complain about pain in the hips and the peculiar aspect of this condition is that it usually affects only one side of the body.

- Some people even have pain in their legs and it can extend all the way till the toes depending on the type of sciatica you are suffering from and this is due to the change in the origin point of this condition. When the pain starts at specific nerves in the body, it affects specific regions and causes pain. By following the symptoms carefully, your doctor will be able to analyze the type of sciatica that is affecting your body.

- You may also feel a tingling sensation in the legs and some people also have a burning sensation in the leg region.

- This is also accompanied by general weakness that will make it difficult for you to move the legs properly. It usually affects only one side of the lower body region and you will have difficulty in moving that particular leg or foot. It is also common to feel numbness in that area and this is due to lack of blood supply to that region.

- While most people experience shooting pain in the legs, there will be a constant pain in the butt region. Again this is seen only on one side of the lower body. All these symptoms can make it difficult for you to stand up easily without holding any support.

- Few people also experience pain in the foot region and this can also be seen specifically in the toe region. They will have difficulty in moving the toes or stretching them due to pain in that region.

- Many people have these symptoms that last only for a short duration and they can easily manage their everyday activities without any problems. However, some people have severe symptoms and they need medical treatment for the condition.

Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain

- This condition occurs usually when the sciatic nerves get pinched due to a herniated disk. When the disc moves from its actual position and slides to touch these sensitive nerves, it can result in a lot of pain and lead to sciatica. As this is the longest nerve that stretches to the lower leg region, you will notice pain in different regions due to this condition.

- In other cases, there are chances that the bone can overgrow on the vertebrae and touch these sciatic nerves. This happens with a few people and the condition slowly happens without revealing other symptoms. In this situation, it can cause a lot of pain as the bones will frequently touch the nerves whenever you move and cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

- In rare cases, there may be a tumour in this region that can touch the sciatic nerves and lead to this condition. You need a proper diagnosis to identify this situation and usually surgery is the only option left in this case to treat the condition. When a tumour is removed, the pain naturally subsides without any complications in most cases.

- You will be surprised to know that diabetes can reduce the capacity of several nerves in the body due to various complications. When this condition damages the sciatic nerves, it can start painting and you will develop sciatica in the long run. The only way to avoid this situation is to control diabetes and building your immune system.

- The likelihood of getting this condition increases with age as the bones lose their strength and they can easily get displaced to touch the nearby nerves. When this touches the sciatic nerves, you will develop symptoms of this condition.

- Excess fat in the body is also linked to this condition as this puts pressure on the spinal column. Obesity can also lead to diabetes and decrease the capacity of your nerves thereby adding to the risks of getting sciatica in the future.

- It is also surprising to note that sitting for long hours can also lead to this condition in the future. The best way to avoid this is to lead an active lifestyle and keep your body flexible so that it will not develop such conditions in the future.

Diagnosis of Sciatic Nerve Pain

-  Physical Examination : The first step in diagnosis begins with a physical examination after analyzing your symptoms. You will be asked to bend your body and stretch various muscles to analyse the pain. You will also be asked to walk around and move your legs and feet so that any painful symptoms can be noticed due to this condition. This can give the doctors some idea about the nature of sciatica that is affecting the patients and further imaging tests will confirm the condition.

-  Imaging Tests : An X-ray will be taken of the spine region and this can reveal many things that are affecting the sciatic nerves in your spinal column. After this is done, an MRI scan can give a detailed analysis of the herniated disks and your doctor will plan for further treatment after this test. In other cases, when the above methods are not giving clear indications, a CT scan and EMG test may be required to get further insight into the condition.

Prevention of Sciatic Nerve Pain

- It may not be possible to prevent sciatica in many cases as you will not be aware of the damage that is happening inside your body. It may be sometime before the symptoms show up and your overall lifestyle has got to do a lot with this condition. However, you can lead a healthy lifestyle and use proper body mechanics while you are involved in any physical activities to reduce the strain on your spinal column.

- The first thing you need to focus in this regard is to develop your strength in the back muscles. You should exercise regularly and keep yourself fit as this will help you with proper posture in the long run. You will not have alignment issues with your spinal column when you exercise regularly. You can even consult your doctor and get suitable ideas to begin your exercise regime.

- It is always important to sit straight and give attention to your posture as this will reduce the strain on your spinal column. This becomes even more important for people who sit for long hours at the office and they need to maintain the natural curve of the spine and support the lower back region. You should also give proper support to your arms and this will help you to avoid the strain on your spine in the long run.

- When you are involved in any strenuous activity, you should carefully watch your spine and make sure that you are not putting too much pressure on this region. While lifting heavy objects, make sure that you bend your knees as this will reduce the direct pressure on the spine. It is also advisable to use proper body support equipment to reduce the strain on your spinal column.

Treatment for Sciatic Nerve Pain

-  Physical Therapy : The first step of treatment begins with reducing your pain. When this is done, the focus will be shifted to improving your posture and building strength in your muscles. This can help you to prevent further injuries in the spinal region and it will also improve your flexibility. You will be able to handle everyday tasks without getting pain in the future. It works well for most people and they do not need any other treatment when the symptoms go away in this stage.

-  Steroid Injections : Taking steroid injections can reduce the inflammation in the affected nerve and this will reduce the pain in quick time. The main drawback of this method is that it cannot be used frequently as the body stops reacting to this after a few doses. For this reason, you should opt for this treatment only in the extremely painful situation.

-  Medications : General medication is used to reduce the inflammation and you may also be prescribed muscle relaxants to ease the pain in the lower back region. Some patients are even given antidepressants as this helps to manage the pain temporarily and other treatments can be chosen at a later stage depending on the symptoms.

-  Surgery : In extreme cases, when this condition leads to lack of control over bowel movements and bladder, surgery may be needed. This is also needed when a tumour is causing the symptoms in your body. Apart from that, you will also benefit from surgery when a herniated disk or overgrown bone is touching the sciatic nerves in your body.

Complications of Sciatic Nerve Pain

- In most cases, this condition does not cause too many complications and you can easily get relief even without any medication. However, in other cases, it can even lead to permanent nerve damage when the symptoms last for a long time and proper treatment is not given at the right time.

- Some people experience severe numbness in the leg and they eventually lose any sort of feeling in that affected region. This can be a severe complication as you will completely lose the ability to stand properly on that affected leg.

- In not so severe conditions, it can lead to weakness in the affected region and it can usually affect a complete leg. In this way, you will have balance issues as you will not be having the same strength in both of your legs.

- In extreme cases, some people have less control over the bladder function when they are suffering from this condition. This can be very embarrassing and it will also affect your overall lifestyle due to this issue. In the same way, there may be a lack of control over bowel movements and this will affect your confidence in the long run.

Conclusion

You can notice the symptoms in the early stages and get yourself diagnosed with this condition. When you have a tumour or herniated disk that is causing damage to the sciatic nerves, you will have to consider surgery as a permanent option to treat this condition. In other cases, when the problem is not very severe and the symptoms are not too painful, you can even get relief from physical therapy and medication.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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