Sciatica is a common condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, the longest and thickest nerve in the body, becomes compressed or irritated. The sciatic nerve originates in the lower back, extends through the buttocks, and runs down each leg. When the nerve is irritated or compressed, it can lead to various sensations and discomfort along its path, known as sciatica.
The medical experts at the Advanced Orthopaedic Centers will help you understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.
Causes of Sciatica:
Sciatica commonly results from an underlying condition that affects the spine. The most frequent causes include:
- Herniated Disc: A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer, pressing against the sciatic nerve roots.
- Spinal Stenosis: This condition involves narrowing the spinal canal, causing compression of the nerve roots.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: The natural aging process can cause the discs between the vertebrae to deteriorate, leading to sciatic nerve irritation.
- Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of its normal position and applies pressure on the adjacent nerve roots.
Symptoms of Sciatica:
The hallmark symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates from the lower back or buttock down the leg. Other common symptoms may include:
- Sharp, shooting pain along the sciatic nerve pathway.
- Numbness or tingling in the leg or foot.
- Weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
- Worsening of pain while sitting, coughing, or sneezing.
Treatment for sciatica generally aims to relieve pain and reduce the underlying cause of the condition.
Depending on the severity and duration of symptoms, treatment options may include:
- Self-Care Measures: Applying hot or cold packs, practicing gentle stretches, maintaining proper posture, and avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help alleviate symptoms.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain medications may be prescribed to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: A structured exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises can improve flexibility, alleviate pain, and prevent future episodes.
- Injections: In some cases, epidural steroid injections can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Surgical Intervention: If conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgery may be considered to alleviate pressure on the affected nerve roots. Surgical options range from discectomy (removal of a herniated disc) to spinal decompression or stabilization procedures.
What are the Next Steps?
At the Advanced Orthopaedic Center, we understand sciatica’s impact on your daily life. By familiarizing yourself with the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you take the first step toward managing sciatica effectively.
Our dedicated team at The Advanced Orthopaedic Center provides expert care and support to help you find relief and regain your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.