Sciatica refers to any tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in the lower back that usually progresses down one or both legs (through the distribution of the sciatic nerve). It is brought about due to any added pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve or the nerves that join to form it; it is not a medical condition in itself, but a symptom pointing towards a different problem.
The Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It starts in the lower back, close to the spine and runs down the back of each leg. The nerve provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot; it also controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg. The importance of this nerve is clear and due to the route it takes, from the spine to the back of the leg; it passes various points which have the potential of adding pressure on the nerve, leading to, what we call, sciatica.
Sciatica is prevalent in an estimate of up to 10% of the population of the United States. The age group that is becoming a victim of this disease is 25-45 years, with gender predilection being almost obliterated. The lifetime incidence of this condition is estimated to be between 13% and 40%. The good news is that there are multiple treatment options available that offer relief and comfort to patients at varying levels, but the potential of the disease to become chronic and intractable makes it vital to get properly diagnosed and adequate treatment.
CAUSES OF SCIATICA
The most common ones include:
- Slipped/herniated Disc: By far the most common cause, it is brought about by trauma or some physical activity. The spinal disk bulge or disc herniation can be a consequence of roughening, enlarging, and/or misalignment of the vertebrae or as a result of degenerated discs.
- Pelvic Fractures: After fractures, the displaced segments of the bone cause trauma to the nerves and damaging them, which then causes the symptoms.
- Aging: With increasing age the integrity of the supporting structures of the body decreases, including the bones and ligaments, this may affect the nerve as well.
- Pregnancy: also experienced by women during pregnancy due to increased weight and pressure on the spine and lower back. It resolves on its own after the pregnancy is over.
Sciatica pain can vary according to the severity of the condition. Following are the main signs which lead towards the diagnosis of sciatica:
- Pain: it often starts slowly. Sciatica pain may get worse: after standing or sitting, at night, when sneezing, coughing or laughing, when bending backwards more than a few yards, especially if it is caused by spinal stenosis.
- Numbness or a burning and tingling sensation radiating down the lower limbs.
- Severe inability to move.
- Sciatica is not a medical condition on its own, it is an indication of another medical problem; hence, the underlying medical condition should be identified and treated.
- Sometimes, no treatment is required and it resolves spontaneously.
- Conservative treatment is best in many cases. To calm and better your symptoms your doctor might tell you to
- Apply ice (first 48 – 72 hours) and then heat, to the painful area.
- Over-the-counter pain killers such as Advil, Motrin or Tylenol.
- Bed rest is not recommended, though activity should be greatly reduced the first couple of days and then restarted gradually. Heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 5-6 weeks after the pain begins should be avoided. Exercise should be resumed again after 2-3 weeks. This should include exercises to strengthen your abdomen and improve flexibility of your spine.
If the above methods do not provide satisfaction then;
- Your Doctor will prescribe steroid injections to reduce inflammation around your nerve.
- Give you stronger medication for your pain
- Physical therapy exercises may also be recommended. The type of physiotherapy depends upon the severity of sciatica.
Nerve pain is very difficult to diagnose and properly treat. If you have ongoing problems with pain, you may want to see a neurologist or a pain specialist to ensure that you have access to the entire range of treatment options. If your pain is the result of an automobile accident or negligence of another, contact a Missouri sciatic nerve lawyer today to discuss your case. Contact Christopher R. Dixon at 314.49.7060 or toll-free at 855.402.7274 to protect your ability for reimbursement for the future effects of your sciatic nerve injury.