You might have sciatica if your pain starts in your lower back, radiates to one side, travels down one buttock, and then travels down the back of your leg.
The longest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve, can become compressed, resulting in sciatica. A direct traumatic injury (such as one sustained in a car accident), a medical condition (such as diabetes, tumours, abscesses, pregnancy, or excess weight), or a spinal problem are the most common causes of this (such as arthritis, degenerative disc, herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis).
A number of symptoms are brought on by the irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by the ensuing pressure. These symptoms can include tingling, weakness, or numbness in your calf, foot, or toes in addition to excruciating pain. You might even be unable to walk, bend your knee, or move your foot because to the pain and paralysis.
Even rising from a seated to a standing position could be challenging. Additionally, sciatica might hurt even when you simply laugh, sneeze, cough, or go to the bathroom. Sciatica can, in extremely rare circumstances, result in loss of bowel and bladder control.
When the holes in the spinal canal or vertebrae where the nerves branch out become restricted, spinal stenosis occurs, the roots of the sciatic nerve get squeezed. This typically results from the spine’s steady deterioration with age.
On the other hand, spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra degenerates and slips forward out of position, can result in sciatica as pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve roots and muscle spasms.
Osteoarthritis, which causes the spinal bone cartilage to gradually wear away, can also induce sciatica. The sciatic nerve may become compressed by aberrant bone growths brought on by arthritis that enter the spinal canal and vertebral joints.
Aging can cause degenerative disc degeneration of the lower back because the discs’ water content decreases. They shrink in length and lose flexibility as a result, leaving less room between the vertebrae. Your spine’s structure is impacted, and the roots of your sciatic nerve may be under pressure.
By completing a physical examination, evaluating your joints’ motion and stability, and testing your reflexes and feelings, an orthopaedic doctor can identify the source of your sciatic nerve pain. Additionally, your doctor can prescribe imaging examinations to pinpoint the precise position and degree of your sciatic nerve compression as well as blood testing to rule out any diseases as the cause of your sciatica.
Without using surgical techniques, sciatica is frequently successfully managed. Various over-the-counter or prescription medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy are available for treating pain. Your doctor will talk to you about the best surgical choices if these treatments don’t help your symptoms and you have a significant loss of function or incapacitating pain.