At some stage or other during your active years, some may get sciatica. Sciatica or sciatic pain starts on one side of the lumbar spine (lower back), and radiates down the back of one of the lower extremities. You never experience sciatic pain bilaterally. It is a pain resulting from pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lumbar region, along the back of the thigh and supplies motor fibers to the muscles of the thighs and legs. The picture (courtesy WebMD) shows the position and the distribution of the sciatic nerve.
The common symptoms of sciatica are important to know to differentiate the excruciating pain from other similar pains in the region. Sciatic pain shoots down or as we call it radiates along the back of the leg. Such pain is worse on sitting, as the nerve tends to stretch in that position. Walking, lying down, and movements that extend the spine (such as shoulder lifts) may relieve symptoms.
Early stages the pain may be mild and tingling or burning down the leg, is more common due to irritation of the sciatic nerve at its root.
Shooting pains make it difficult to stand up from the sitting position. Lying down in bed in certain positions the pain may subside.
Sciatic pain originates suddenly; most times you are not aware how it originated. Most situations it lasts for a few weeks and disappears, to recur again, with similar trigger movements.
Most people who get sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. Women develop the problem during the time of pregnancy due to pressure on the sciatic nerve from the developing uterus. The worst situation is after bending with the knees kept straight and lifting some heavy object, or in older people due to degeneration of the lumbar vertebrae.
Unless you seek specialist treatment the condition could be debilitating and become permanent. Proper examination by a specialist is required with necessary investigations to diagnose and management
Another uncommon condition that causes sciatica is Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the one below, commonly at Lumbar 5 and Sacral 1 segment disc space.
In the forward bent position to lift objects (flexion) the vertebrae seems to get open at the back bordering the spinal canal. This open situation of the vertebra makes the spine unstable and the disks could herniate (bulge) into the canal, and cause direct pressure on the nerves that branch out of the lower end of the spinal column. We call this a process of herniation of the disk, which really cushions between vertebrae for flexible mobility of the spine. These disks also get weaker as you age and become more vulnerable to injury. These disks have a collection of gel in the center (core) and invariably gets pushed out (herniated) through its outer lining and presses on the roots of the sciatic nerve. The above picture (courtesy WebMD) shows clearly a disk that has herniated and pressing on the spinal cord.
Learn to flex at the hips and knees before bending to lift objects. This relaxes the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh, joining the hip bones to the back of the upper tibia bone, at the knee joint.
The piriformis is a muscle found deep inside the buttocks within the pelvic bones. . It connects the lower sacral segments to the upper thighbone (hip) and runs directly over the sciatic nerve. If this muscle goes into spasm, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering symptoms of sciatica. Piriformis syndrome is more common in women
These steps can help you avoid back injuries that may lead to sciatica.
Another late complication of sciatica is weakness and wasting of muscles of the lower extremity on the side that is affected. Loss of sensation of the skin also may be observed in certain areas.
The operation (laminectomy and decompression) may not be popular mainly because delaying cause permanent damage to the structures and relieving the pressure late by surgery may not be successful.
Protecting your spine
Exercising with an inflatable ball could be most beneficial to become mobile to prevent back injuries.
Protect your spine as much as you protect your heart.
(Some ref: to WebMD Oct 2, 2011)
Copyright © 2000 ~ 2016 Ozlanka®.
Ozlanka is not responsible for the contents of this article or for any external internet sites that may be linked through this website.
The views expressed above are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or concepts of the webmaster or the owners & operators of Ozlanka.
Ozlanka and Auslanka are registered trademarks