Jun 192013

Sciatica is an irritation or pain in the lower back and leg, and this condition can become extremely unpleasant. Many people suffer from it, and it is completely curable. But before one can apply the right sciatica treatment, one should answer the question what is sciatica caused by, what are it’s symptoms and treatment methods.


Sciatica Causes

First of all, let’s talk about causes of sciatica. In essence, sciatica is caused by a disrupted sciatic nerve. This nerve starts at the lower back and runs all the way to the feet, and is considered to be the longest nerve in the nervous system. This disruption of sciatic nerve can be pinching or pressing.


sciatic nerve anatomy

Spinal stenosis : Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and causes the nerve to get pressed, which in turn causes severe pain. This is not the most common of sciatica causes, but can be cured rather easily.

Spondylolisthesis : In the medical community, a dislocation of a vertebrae is called spondylolisthesis. This causes the nerve to be pressed, since the canal for it is narrower in that particular area. Various methods of sciatica treatment can be used in this situation to relocate the vertebrae.

Herniated spinal disc : One of the most common things what is sciatica caused by is herniated spinal disc. If you are not familiar with this, spinal discs are gel-like substances between the vertebrae for cushioning, and when it is broken, ruptured or worn, it might cause the sciatic nerve to be pinched or pressed.

Piriformis syndrome : This is also one of the more common sciatica causes. This syndrome has to do with muscles. When the muscles in the lower back or buttocks become tight, they can cause the sciatic nerve, which runs either between the muscles or at the back of the leg, to be pressed. The more common sciatica treatment in this situation is muscle relaxants, but we will get to that later.

Tumor : Another thing what is sciatica caused by, and this is one of the least pleasant ones, as you might expect, is a tumor or cancer. As you might already know, a tumor can grow near the spine and press the sciatic nerve. This is extremely dangerous as an improper diagnosis might lead to improper sciatica treatment, and tumor can usually be treated only with surgery.

Sciatica Symptoms

Some of the readers might already have experienced the pain that is caused when a nerve is pressed or pinched, or the unpleasant feeling when the whole arm becomes numb from accidentally touching a nerve near the elbow. This is exactly what is sciatica causing.

People who suffer from sciatica most often feel excruciating pain in the lower back, buttocks or the legs. However, a proper diagnosis must be done to determine, where exactly the pain is coming from, as sometimes a pinched nerve in the leg might cause pain in the back. Therefore, this might lead to improper sciatica treatment.

Moreover, sciatica might lead to higher chance of leg cramping and numbness, and the symptoms might become more visible when the person is squatting or trying to sit down. Sometimes symptoms are so unpleasant that sitting down becomes impossible.

Pain in the lower back and legs might lead to experiencing muscle weakness, which can also be identified as a sciatica symptom.

Sciatica Treatment

There are many different ways to treat sciatica. However, it is important to look what is sciatica caused by to apply the right treatment for the situation. Sciatica treatment methods vary from simple exercises to complete change in lifestyle, from pain relief to surgery.

piriformis syndrome image

Exercises and stretches : If the pain that sciatica causes is not extreme, patients can cure or alleviate the symptoms from the comfort of their home. For instance, they can do special exercises and sciatica stretches. This not only helps alleviate the pain, but it also makes the muscles stronger and more flexible. Stronger and flexible muscles lead to better support for the spine as well as reduced chance of muscle tension and lower risk of sciatica and back injuries.

Compresses and hot bath : Another good example of sciatica treatment at home is compresses and hot bath. For instance, in the first 48 hours of noticing sciatica symptoms, you can put a cold compress on the soring area to reduce the inflammation, swelling and irritation. Alternatively, one can apply a hot compress to increase the blood circulation and thus boost the repair process. A hot bath works in a similar way. If the patient has problems sitting, it is also allowed to take a hot 15 minute long shower. For the best results, it is recommended to alternate between those two compresses.

Pain relief and muscle relaxant medication : If you have seen a doctor for the lower back pain, chances are that he gave you prescribed medication of sciatica treatment. Ibuprofen or paracetamol are good examples of what is sciatica medication for pain relief. However, many patients say that these methods are very temporary and it has many undesirable side effects. For example, patients tend to take stronger medication gradually, since the original prescription fails to give the results. Unlike sciatica stretches, this method of sciatica treatment tends to sometimes weaken the muscles.

Surgery : Sometimes the pain is so intense that the only method to cure it is by surgery. By doing surgery, the doctor repairs the factors what is sciatica caused by, such as dislocated vertebrae, ruptured disc or tumor. Even though it gives relatively fast results, in many cases sciatica causes tend to come back and other methods of sciatica treatment need to be applied.

 Posted by at 2:10 am

  One Response to “What is Sciatica? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment”

  1. very informative thank you.

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