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Overview

Sciatica - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Sciatica is the pain that occurs in the large sciatic nerve that runs from our lower back down through the back of the legs. It’s a disease that causes severe and debilitating pain. Sciatica pain that originates in the lower back moves down and travels through our buttocks along the path of the sciatic nerve, behind our legs causing numbness, tingling sensation or weakness. Anatomically speaking, this nerve is the largest single nerve in our body and constitutes of individual nerve roots that starts by spreading out from our spine in the lower back and then assimilate to form the ‘sciatic nerve’. The symptoms of this disease arise, when this large nerve gets compressed or irritated at or near its point of origin.

Patients suffering from sciatica pain are rarely aged below 20. This disease is commonplace in middle age people who are between the ages of 40-50. While sciatica pain is often loosely used to describe all kinds of leg pains, but researchers estimate that up to 43 percent of the global population gets affected with this disease, at some times in their lives. Although pain from a pinched nerve can be debilitating, but most of the patients suffering from sciatica, find themselves feeling better with medication, within a few weeks or months.

Sciatica is a condition that seldom occurs because of a particular injury, but rather this painful condition develops over time.

The following 6 lower back medical issues are the most common causes of sciatica:

In addition to the above stated 6 most common causes, a number of other conditions can also cause sciatica, which includes:

Sciatica can be treated both surgically and non-surgically. There are a wide range of options that are available for nonsurgical sciatica treatment, such as, ice and heat compression on the affected site, ingesting over-the-counter pain medications and injecting epidural steroid injection for relieving acute pain. Usually all these treatments are prescribed in conjunction with specific exercises. In addition, these common medical treatments, a wide number of alternative treatments have also proved effective for many patients for alleviating this pain. Some of the most accepted forms of alternate care for treating sciatica includes acupuncture therapy, chiropractic manipulation, massage and cognitive behavior therapy.

Treatable by medical professional Require medical diagnosis Lab test sometimes required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Non communicable
Symptoms
Constant pain that remains on any one side of the buttock, but seldom on both sides. Pain originates in the low back and continuing to travel along the path of the sciatic nerve- down through the back of the thigh and into the lower part of the leg and foot. Pain often feels better when lying down or while walking, but worsens when sitting or standing. Pain is not a dull pain, rather, it’s a searing and sharp agony. Numbness, prickling and a pin-and-needle sensation that travels down the leg.

Popular Health Tips

Know Your Back or Lumbar Spine

Dr. Vishwas Virmani 91% (18099 ratings)
MPT, BPT
Physiotherapist, Noida
Know Your Back or Lumbar Spine
If we look at the human backbone or spine , we can see that the vertebrae rest upon one another similarly to a stack of cotton spools . The spine is divided into regions. There are seven vertebrae in the cervical region (neck), twelve vertebrae in the thoracic region (upper back), and five vertebrae in the lumbar region (lower back) .. Beneath the lumbar vertebrae are found the sacrum and the coccyx. It is the lower back or lumbar and sacral regions that concern us most. Each vertebra has a solid part in front, the vertebral body, and a hole in the back .When lined up as in the spinal column, these holes form the spinal canal. This canal serves as a protected passageway for the bundle of nerves which extends from head to pelvis-the spinal .Special cartilages, called the discs, separate the vertebrae. The discs are located between the vertebral bodies just in front of the spinal cord . Each disc consists of a soft semi-fluid centre part, the nucleus, which is surrounded and held together by a cartilage ring, the annulus or annular ligament. The discs are similar to rubber washers and act as shock absorbers. The are able to alter their shape, thus allowing movement of one vertebra on another and of the back as a whole.The vertebrae and discs are linked by a series of joints to form the lumbar spine or low back. Each joint is held together by its surrounding soft tissues-that is, a capsule reinforced by ligaments. Ligaments can be likened to the stays that hold a mast in place on a sailing ship. If a stay were to give way, the mast will likely fall when subjected to extra strains. Muscles lie over one or more joints of the low back and may extend upward to the trunk and downward to the pelvis. At both ends each muscle changes into a tendon by which it attaches itself to different bones. When a muscle contracts, it causes movement in one or more joints.Between each two vertebrae there is a small opening on either side through which a nerve leaves the spinal canal, the right and left spinal nerve . Amongst other tasks, the spinal nerves supply our muscles with power and our skin with sensation. In other words, it is through the nerves that we can move ourselves and feel temperature, pressure and pain. The nerves are really part of our alarm system: pain is the warning that some structure is about to be damaged or has already sustained some damage.In the lower part of the spine some of these nerves combine on each side to form the right and left sciatic nerves. The sciatic nerves service our legs, and when compressed or irritated, they may cause pain in the leg which often extends below the knee. This is then called sciatica. Functions of the lumbar spine: In animals that walk on all fours, the weight of their body is distributed evenly by DISC their four legs. Most of the time the spine is held in aIl more or less horizontal position and the compressive forces that exist in upright man do not occur. In human beings, the spine is held in a more or vertical position, at least during waking and working hours. When we are upright, , lumbar spine bears the compressive weight of the body above it transmits this weight to the pelvis when sitting and to the feet when standing, walking and running. Thus the lumbar spine, providing flexible connection between the upper and lower half of the body protects the spinal cord and also has a greater function in weight bearing. In the evolution of the horizontal-spine posture of animals to the vertical-spine posture of man, the discs between the vertebrae have adapted to support heavier weights. In addition, the spinal column has developed a series of curves that ingeniously allow for better shock absorption and flexibility.
1 person found this helpful

What Is Piriformis Syndrome?

Dr. Vishwas Virmani 91% (18099 ratings)
MPT, BPT
Physiotherapist, Noida
What Is Piriformis Syndrome?
A common symptom of piriformis syndrome is pain along the sciatic nerve, so it is often thought that piriformis syndrome causes sciatica. However, piriformis syndrome does not involve a radiculopathy - a disc extending beyond its usual location in the vertebral column that impinges or irritates the nerve root - so it is technically not sciatica.Instead, with piriformis syndrome, it is the piriformis muscle itself that irritates the sciatic nerve and causes sciatic pain.See What is Piriformis Syndrome? The piriformis is a muscle located deep in the hip that runs in close proximity to the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight and/or inflamed, it can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve. This irritation leads to sciatica-like pain, tingling and numbness that run from the lower back, to the rear and sometimes down the leg and into the foot. Supine piriformis stretches Lie on the back with the legs flat. Pull the affected leg up toward the chest, holding the knee with the hand on the same side of the body and grasping the ankle with the other hand. Trying to lead with the ankle, pull the knee towards the opposite ankle until stretch is felt. Do not force ankle or knee beyond stretch. Hold stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly return to starting position. Aim to complete a set of three stretches.Lie on the floor with the legs flat. Raise the affected leg and place that foot on the floor outside the opposite knee. Pull the knee of the bent leg directly across the midline of the body using the opposite hand or a towel, if needed , until stretch is felt. Do not force knee beyond stretch or to the floor. Hold stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly return to starting position. Aim to complete a set of three stretches.Lie on the floor with the affected leg crossed over the other leg at the knees and both legs bent. Gently pull the lower knee up towards the shoulder on the same side of the body until stretch is felt. Hold stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly return to starting position. Aim to complete a set of three stretches. Typical features of any sciatica exercise program include:Core muscle strength. Many sciatica exercises serve to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles in order to provide more support for the back. Stretching exercises for sciatica target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible. When patients engage in a regular program of gentle strengthening and stretching exercises, they can recover more quickly from a flare up of sciatica and are less likely to experience future episodes of pain.Specific diagnosis. Most exercise programs will be tailored to address the underlying cause of the patient's sciatic pain, such as a lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Doing the wrong type of exercise can worsen the sciatic pain, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis prior to starting a program of sciatica exercises. 1. Piriformis Stretch: Laying on your back, place both feet flat on the floor with knees bent. Rest your right ankle over the left knee and pull the left thigh toward your chest.Hold stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.Remember to keep the top foot flexed to protect your knee. 2. Seated Hip Stretch: While in a seated position, cross your right leg over your straightened left leg.Hug your right knee with your left arm, making sure to keep your back straight.Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side. 3. Pigeon Pose Start in Downward-Facing Dog pose with your feet together: Draw your right knee forward and turn it out to the right so your right leg is bent and your left leg is extended straight behind you. Slowly lower both legs.Hold the position for five to ten breaths, then switch to the other side. 4. Self-Trigger Point Therapy: Performing self trigger-point therapy using a lacrosse or tennis ball can be very effective at delivering sciatica pain relief.All you have to do is find a painful spot in the glutes, place the ball at that location and then relax your body into the ball.Hold this position for 30-60 seconds or until you notice a significant reduction in pain. Move to the next painful spot. The total time spent on this exercise should be between 5-10 minutes. Practicing these four exercises once or twice a day can definitely bring you much needed sciatica pain relief.
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Sciatica Pain - Treatments Options For It!

Dr. K J Choudhury 88% (10 ratings)
MBBS, MD, M.N.A.M.S(Anaesthesiology), FWACS
Pain Management Specialist, Delhi
Sciatica Pain - Treatments Options For It!
Ever faced a nagging low backache that won't go away? You could be dealing with sciatica. Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is not a diagnosis, but is a symptom of a deeper problem. Sciatica is a pain in the lower limb and back due to compression or inflammation of nerves exiting from the lower vertebrae due to disc prolapse/herniation/ protrusion. Discs in vertebrae provide cushioning to the vertebrae during movement. The spinal nerves of the lower limb emerge from both sides and get inflammed due to disc prolapse. Inflammation can be controlled by depositing anti-inflammatory drugs with a non-surgical technique using fluroscopy, called spinal root block. If the disc prolapse is severe it can cause weakness of the lower limb or difficulty in controlling bladder/ bowel movement, surgery is performed to remove offending disc. Many times symptoms dissolve with nerve medications along with physical therapy. Conditions that trigger sciatica include degenerative discs, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc in the lumbar region or spondylolisthesis. Whether your sciatica pain is persistent or sporadic, it can make routine tasks difficult to perform. The good news is that there are a number of remedies to ease this pain and improve the health of your spine. Hot and cold therapy: Sciatic pain that extends down to the thighs can be relieved by alternating between a heat pack and an ice pack. Each pack can be applied for about 20 minutes at a stretch every two hours. However, this does not treat the sciatic nerve itself. Pain medications and steroid injections: Over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen or muscle relaxants can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. In chronic cases, epidural steroid injections may also be prescribed to address the inflammation and pain. Pain relief provided by medication and steroid injections can last for a few days or a few months depending on the person. Yoga: Sciatica patients looking for long-term relief often turn towards alternative forms of treatment like yoga. Yoga helps strengthen muscles, increases flexibility and improves posture. This is more beneficial towards preventing sciatica problems from arising than treating ongoing sciatic pain. When practicing yoga with a sciatica problem, it is very important to understand your body's limitations and not overextend your back muscles. Massage: A massage that treats sciatic pain is very different from the usual massage, you may get at a spa. A massage can be done to relieve sciatic pain involves putting pressure on the inflamed part of the back and the piriformis muscle. This is the muscle is located on the sciatic nerve and can trigger sciatic pain. In most cases, 3 to 4 massage sessions at intervals of 7 to 10 days can have effective results on sciatic pain. Physical therapy: Sciatica patients often find the slightest movement extremely painful. While lying in a bad is tempting, it can actually worsen the pain. Exercise increases blood flow to the spine and helps flush out toxins. Going for a walk, light aerobics or swimming are ideal ways for a sciatica patient to exercise. Chiropractic manipulation: This involves realigning the spinal column and is an effective way of treating underlying conditions that trigger sciatic pain. These spinal adjustments should only be performed by licensed chiropractors or osteopathic physicians.
1 person found this helpful

3 Home Physiotherapy Exercises for Sciatica

Dr. Vishwas Virmani 91% (18099 ratings)
MPT, BPT
Physiotherapist, Noida
3 Home Physiotherapy Exercises for Sciatica
I Standing Hip Flexor Stretch Your hip flexors are a group of muscles responsible for raising your knee to your chest and moving your leg from front to back and side to side. Tight hip flexors are a common cause of low back pain due to their anterior pull on the pelvis.You may want to find more than one hip flexor stretch to work this area from several angles. 1.Stand with your feet staggered, your right leg forward and left leg behind, and both knees bent.Place your hands on your hips,and keep your torso tall and shoulders squared.Move into the stretch by gently lowering your right knee, and raise your left arm overhead. 2.Put most of your weight on the front leg and open the back hip until you feel tension in the left thigh and right hip. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. II Seated Leg Crossover The hip muscles are vital to keeping your pelvis and low back strong, flexible,and properly aligned. Weak or tight hip muscles can place more work on the back and lead to pain and injury. Master this basic stretch to build strong muscles in the hips and buttocks. 1.Sit with your left leg extended out in front and your right leg crossed over.Use your left arm to support the right leg. Keep your back tall, spine aligned, and core engaged.With an exhalation, rotate your torso to the right. 2. Press your right thigh toward your chest and feel the stretch in the outer right hip. Lengthen the spine on the inhalation and rotate slightly more with each exhalation.Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. III Standing Piriformis Stretch A tight piriformis can lead to pain in the lower back, buttocks, and leg. This can be caused by overdoing an activity such as running, or even sitting for an extended time. This stretch can be performed on a table or riser that s close to the height of your hip. Try several positions until you find the one that s best for you. 1.Lay your right leg as flat as possible on the riser, bending inward so your foot is pointed to the left. Your right knee should be in line with the foot and your hands rest on the riser. 2.Keeping your core tight and back flat,slowly bend forward at the hips. Move as far forward as is comfortable until you feel the stretch in the hips and buttocks.Hold for 15 to 20 seconds. 3.Contract your outer hip muscles by pressing the knee down toward the surface for 5 seconds relax and move further into the stretch. Repeat 2 or 3 times and switch legs.
2 people found this helpful

3 Easy Home Exercises for Sciatica With Foam Roller

Dr. Vishwas Virmani 91% (18099 ratings)
MPT, BPT
Physiotherapist, Noida
3 Easy Home Exercises for Sciatica With Foam Roller
I Glute and Piriformis Foam Roll Foam rolling helps you make the best use of your time by massaging muscles,improving flexibility, and preventing injury. The muscles of the glutes and piriformis can greatly benefit from this combination, as they re used frequently throughout the day. 1.Sit with your left legs lightly bent in front of you and your foot on the floor. Cross your right leg over with your right foot resting on your upper left leg, and place the foam roller under your hips.Put your hands on the floor behind you to prop up your upper body. 2.Roll up and down the right side of the hips and buttocks. If you feel a spot that s tender or tight,spend more time working that particular area. Perform the rolling movement for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. II Hip Flexor Foam Roll Targeting the hip flexor muscles utilizing the foam roller is a great way to alleviate tightness and help prevent injury. These muscles are often hard to isolate when strengthening and stretching, but are used readily throughout the day. 1. Lie on your left side with your left leg extended on the floor and your right leg crossed over.Place the foam roller under your outer left hip. Keep your arms in front of you to prop your upper body up off the floor 2. Roll up and down the front and outer part of the left hip. If you feel a spot that s tender or tight,spend more time working that area. Perform the rolling movement for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. III Lateral Leg Swing Many sports require the ability to complete quick lateral moves for success.Use this dynamic stretch to warm up the hip muscles that perform these moves to maximize performance and minimize injury. 1.Lean into a wall or sturdy object for support.Keep your core engaged and back straight. Put your weight on the back leg with a slight bend in the knee.Draw in your abs and raise your right leg.Keeping a bend at the right knee, swing your right leg inward at the hip. 2.Then bring the knee outward across your body, and back to the start position in a continuous sequence. Do this 8 to 12 times,and then repeat using the other leg.
2 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I am 34 years old women, suffering fm sciatica pain fm last 2, 3 years. But pain was under control coz only leg was paining. But fm last 4 days my lower back s paining a lot causing me so much discomfort that I am not able to walk properly. Kindly enlighten my way.

Dr. Lochan Arora 90% (128 ratings)
MPT - Orthopedic Physiotherapy, Diploma In Diet & Nutrition, MSc - Dietitics/Nutrition
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Delhi
If pain is more visit physiotherapist, they will provide you treatment for quick relief. Plan some medications like vitb12 to provide strength to your nerve as well.

Am suffering sciatica a month Ago. Am in dubai now, I did not take mra ,i take medicines like calcium and omega tablets, now am far away from my pain, bt my problem is my leg is stiffness I can walk ,the weakness is less day by day ,this stiffness is normal at this sciatica?

Dr. Lochan Arora 90% (128 ratings)
MPT - Orthopedic Physiotherapy, Diploma In Diet & Nutrition, MSc - Dietitics/Nutrition
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Delhi
yes stiffness is common,as we stop bending and stretching bend in pain and after that it pains, do walk and start stretching exz for back and legs muscles.
2 people found this helpful

I have muscle pain in sciatica nerve in right leg. The pain is not subsiding. Please advise.

Dr. Sandhya Krishnamurthy 93% (10624 ratings)
BAMS
Ayurveda, Bangalore
Hi, Take tab. Mahavatavidhwamsa Ras 1tab. 2 times a day and apply Pinda Taila to the left and massage for 5-10mins and later five got water fomentation.

Sir, I have sciatica problem from last many years and I am using NSAID regularly sply in winter pain is un variable, also I feel like numbness in my sometimes in right leg and sometimes in left leg for which I can't stand for long time. I use to walk much before because of my profession but now it is really painful to walk long. I tried for physiotherapy traction but somebody told me to stop as its make the pain more. Please give me the best of the best Advice. Now a days I am not able to go for the job which again making me feel anxiety.

Dr. K V Anand 94% (21893 ratings)
BASM, MD, MS (Counseling & Psychotherapy), MSc - Psychology, Certificate in Clinical psychology of children and Young People, Certificate in Psychological First Aid, Certificate in Positive Psychology, Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health
Psychologist, Palakkad
Dear lybrate-user. Thanks for the question. I can understand. Once the underlying causes of sciatic nerve compression are identified, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to relieve sciatica and foot numbness symptoms as well as improve lost mobility. This course of conservative treatment might include methods, such as: Physical therapy. Take care.

I am suffering from sciatica left leg pain since 1 month please tell me how to get rid from sciatica pain instantly and please tell me what is better diet for it recovery.

Dr. Vishwas Virmani 91% (18099 ratings)
MPT, BPT
Physiotherapist, Noida
Wall calf stretch •Stand about two feet away from a wall. Place the ball of your right foot against the wall while your heel remains on the ground. Slowly and gently lean into the wall while keeping your knee straight. Hold this for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times twice a day. •Contrast bath---It is a form of treatment where a limb or the entire body is immersed in warm water followed by the immediate immersion of the limb or body in ice water. This procedure is repeated several times, alternating hot and cold. Note that the treatment should always end in the ice water, as heat will induce the body's inflammatory response, while cold helps to decrease inflammation.
1 person found this helpful

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