Sciatica is a condition where the nerves are pinched, damaged or inflamed causing severe pain. It can affect anyone, but because the pain is so awful, it is considered worse than a low back pain. Let us take a look at sciatica symptoms as well as the causes and treatment to ease or relieve the condition.
What you need to know about sciatica
The body has two large and long sciatic nerves. They run from the lower spine to the buttocks and then connected to the hip joint and the back of the knee. Each of these nerves is almost the size of the human finger. When the sciatic nerves are pinched or at worse, damaged, sciatica occurs. Sciatica symptoms include the following:
- pin and needles sensation
- shooting pain
- nagging sensation
- numbness in the leg or foot
In addition, pain is confined to only one side of the body. Activities such as running, walking or climbing stairs worsen the pain. It is relieved only when the patient sits down or bends the back.
Sciatica might have no obvious cause in some people. It can however, occur in people who have lower back pain. There are also other causes identified in people who have sciatica such as the following:
- herniated disk
- swelling because of a torn ligament
- Paget's disease
- diabetic neuropathy or damage to the nerves due to diabetes disease
- blood clot
Diagnosis of sciatica is mainly based on symptoms. Your doctor will do a physical exam and test your muscle strength and reflexes. A common test requested by your GP is to lift your leg in the air and bend it. Squatting or walking on your heels are other activities you will be asked to do. If you have sciatica, the pain will be worsen when you perform these activities. The doctor can also order an x-ray to check your bone spur. Other tests that will help determine if you have sciatica include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT).
Treatment for sciatica
Based on sciatica symptoms, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling. Moreover, hot and cold compress can help in pain relief as well as stretching and sleeping on the side with bent knees. Getting sufficient rest and sleeping on a firm mattress are other treatment options. In most cases, however, the pain resolves on its own.