Everything You Need to Know About Sciatica
Causes Of Sciatica
Sciatica is most commonly caused by compression of nerve roots in the lower back, also known as “slipped” or “extruded discs”, degenerative spinal disease and rare tumors. Sciatica is usually caused by one nerve root pressing against the other. One nerve root exits between each pair in the sacral and lumbar spines (L1-L4). Sciatica is a condition where the nerve root is pinched or irritated.
There are many risk factors that can lead to sciatica. These risk factors include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Tobacco products that can be chewed or smoked
Driving, prolonged sitting, long-standing, standing on hard surfaces, and wearing high heels can increase the pressure on the nerves in the buttocks, legs, and feet.
Diagnosis for Sciatica
The diagnosis can be made by a physical exam and a medical evaluation that includes diagnostic imaging (xrays and MRI imaging). Your doctor might also recommend that you rule out osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, narrowing of the canal, and other conditions.
Treatment of Sciatica
Sciatica pain treatment could include:
- Combination of rest.
- Use over-the-counter medication such as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Prescription medication.
For more severe cases, epidural steroids injections or radiofrequency denervation can be used. These inject chemicals into the nerve roots to “poison”, and/or surgery.
Sciatica pain can be relieved by over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, Tylenol, or ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin). If necessary, your family physician may prescribe stronger medications.
Surgery is a great option for severe pain that cannot be helped by other options. There are many surgical options, but the most popular are microdiscectomy and laminotomy.
Lifestyle changes that can be made to help sciatica include not sitting or standing for too long. This will pressure the nerve root. The exercise ball can be used to support the lower back and keep it strong. It is recommended that you take a break from sitting for prolonged periods of time by getting up and moving around for five to ten minutes every 30 minutes. It is important to maintain a good posture when sitting. Don’t slouch forward or lean forward.
Sciatica, in short, is a painful condition that results from sciatic nerve compression. Sciatica can be caused by obesity, smoking, or lifting heavy objects. A physical exam and a medical evaluation are often required to diagnose sciatica. Your doctor might recommend medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes to address the condition.