The most amazing aspect of the human body is synchronized and well-articulated motor function which makes us superior in the animal kingdom pyramid. These motor abilities are attributed to the interaction between the brain, spinal cord and the nerves running across the body.
One such nerve is Sciatic nerve, largest and a crucial nerve for mobility. It runs from either side of the lower spinal cord to the hips and thighs, traversing the route towards the foot. It is responsible for the motor responses of our legs connecting the spinal cord and the foot muscles.
Any factor that causes an abnormal physiological reaction to the sciatic nerve can cause a shooting pain radiating from the lower back towards the legs. This pain is called Sciatica Pain. The degree of pain varies from mild to sharp with burning sensation, might cause tingling or numbness. Sciatica is one of the common problems of middle-aged population. Sciatica might get into bad shape with long hours of sitting or standing, straining or doing an extremely rigorous activity.
Representation of Sciatica is similar to as referred pain. The problem originates in the lower lumbar region of the spine but the pain appears in the thigh, calves, and foot.
It is overall caused by damage to the sciatic nerve for which the reasons could vary such as:
1) Disc herniation:It is the most common cause of Sciatica. Herniation near spinal nerve root puts pressure on the nerve resulting in the painful symptoms.
2) Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: With age, the bone of vertebrae overgrow resulting in the narrowing of the canal of the spinal cord and putting strenuous pressure on the sciatic nerve. Majority of people with this complication are also prone to have sciatica.
3) Nerve pinching or compression: This might happen because of sports or accidental injury, slipped-disc/spondylolisthesis in the lower vertebra. Nerve compression causes limb weakness and loss of sensation with shooting pain.
4) Piriform syndrome: In this case, the sciatic nerve gets impinged between the piriform muscles of the hip region causing inflammation and pain.
5) Other diseases or physiological conditions: Conditions like Osteoarthritis, pregnancy may lead to Sciatic pain. Also Cancer, Deep vein embolism, abscesses may result in sciatic nerve impingement.
Clinical diagnosis of sciatica is done by X-rays, MRI or myelogram to determine the root cause and the degree of damage.
The final requirement of Sciatica treatment is to enhance the range of motion and reduce pain. The treatment varies from resting to surgery which eventually depends on the extent of the pain and damage. The whole treatment plan is exposed to personal customization.
1) Medicines: Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs help in alleviating the pain and make the individual stay with ease. Commonly NSAIDs and Muscle relaxants are prescribed for relief.
2) Physical therapy: a Customisable program of stretching, aerobic exercises can help with pain relief and releasing pressure on the nerve. It should be guided by an expert physiotherapist.
3) Epidural Injections: Spinal injections of anti-inflammatory medicines such as cortisone has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation, reducing pressure on the nerve.
4) Surgical Interventions: People who have progressive symptoms and not responding well with the conservative treatment needs surgery. Type of surgery also depends on the damage.
5) Microdiscectomy: Here the fragments of herniated disks are clipped to decompress the sciatic nerve
6) Laminectomy: Here the part of the vertebral bone is removed which covers the spinal cord hence reducing pressure from the sciatic nerve.
Although these are not always the last resort for treatment. Some people get benefitted by an alternative treatment such as acupuncture or yoga.
Though the point that has to be kept in the mind always is that it is your spinal cord on which your whole body is standing. Any carelessness or ignorance might leave you crippled throughout the life. These pains are curable, hence they should be treated in time by an experienced and knowledgeable person.