If you feel pain on your lower middle back when you bend or stretch and it radiates down to your legs, then you might be experiencing sciatica. But what is sciatica? It is a pain manifestation which resulted from the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain usually begins at the lower middle back and may extend down to the calf and foot depending on the affected nerve root. Sciatica is not a disorder by itself but a symptom resulted from another medical condition. People who are usually affected by sciatica are suffering from a herniated disc. Any factor which directly inflicts irritation and inflammation on the sciatic nerve produces the symptoms of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. Its nerve roots run from the lumbar spinal cord located at the lower back extending through the buttocks, hips and lower limb. When this nerve becomes inflamed or irritated it produces pain that resembles like a leg cramp. It makes neither sitting nor standing difficult due to the intensity of pain it inflicts. Typically the pain is aggravated when sitting, sneezing or coughing. Pain in acute sciatica usually lasts for four to eight weeks and diminishes on its own depending on the causative agent.
Sciatica is often caused by the slipping of discs. It is common in people between the ages of 30-50 partly because of aging. The general wear and tear of the surrounding muscle of the back can easily be affected by any sudden pressure on the disks. The disks serve as a cushion of the bone in the lower spine and if it deteriorates may result to the symptom of sciatica; the intensity of pain inflicted by sciatica varies.
The compression of the sciatic nerve gives rise to sciatica. When the disc slips or bulges, pain at the lower back is the first symptom that is being manifested. Its symptoms may include burning sensation, numbness and tingling sensation.
Diagnosis of sciatica normally includes a thorough medical assessment. Generally, the doctor explains how the pain started and its common symptoms. Proper knowledge and awareness are vital for the patient to clearly understand what is sciatica and how does it affect them. The doctor may also have to review its signs and symptoms through a physical assessment. Physical exam will help determine its cause to be able to give a concrete prognosis. The test is also used to pinpoint the affected nerves. Other tests such as x-ray and MRI may be recommended for further evaluation.
Basically the main goal of treatment for sciatica is to decrease pain intensity and increase mobility. The cure for sciatica would normally involve rehabilitation, surgery and medical management. If sciatica goes untreated it might lead to a chronic condition and further complications. Acute sciatica condition usually goes away with proper rest and time, without the need for surgery or any medical management. There are ways to help prevent sciatica like regular exercise to strengthen the back muscles and maintaining proper body posture at all times.
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