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What is sciatica? Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that occurs along the sciatic nerve. This is the longest and thickest nerve in the body, branching from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, and each leg. This pain can stem from irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
Pain from sciatica can range from a mild ache to severe and excruciating, and can be felt at any point along the sciatic nerve – anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, and each leg. This pain will usually worsen with movement and may result in a loss of mobility. Additional sciatica symptoms can include weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the leg or foot. Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body at a time.
The most common causes of sciatica pain are a herniated disc, a bone spur, or spinal stenosis. These conditions can all put pressure on a nerve root, which causes the inflammation and pain.
The method used for sciatica diagnosis is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT). MRI is the more commonly used detection technique as it can typically show the underlying issue in a clear manner, be it disk herniation, pressure on a nerve, or the arthritic condition that may be responsible for the condition. Once the cause is identified, the doctor can then decide on the right course of sciatica treatment.
What causes sciatica to flare up? Being overweight can lead to sciatica complications. Some other factors such as, bad posture, pelvic fracture, or a tumor or other mass pressing on the nerve may also aggravate the condition.
In most cases, sciatica can be resolved with non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy or steroid injections. The type of physical therapy may vary from person to person, depending on the nature and severity of the issue. It has been found that some patients experience improvement with sciatica treatment exercises and stretching. However before experimenting with any form of sciatica stretches or exercises, it’d be best to consult a qualified doctor or physiotherapist.
If conservative treatments fail to provide sciatica pain relief or the condition is accompanied by significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options may include a discectomy or laminectomy, in which your surgeon would remove part of a bone or repair and/or replace a disc that is compressing the sciatic nerve.