What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is not a condition or diagnosis in itself, rather it is a symptom of an underlying issue that affects the Sciatic Nerve. The Sciatic Nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, which branches out from the lower back and extends through the buttock, the thigh, and into the foot. Often symptoms related to the Sciatic Nerve result from a condition affecting the spine, such as:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Disc in the Lumbar Spine
These conditions can lead to pinching, irritation, inflammation, pressure or impingement of the Sciatic Nerve or surrounding tissues. However, the symptoms can be felt along the entire expanse of the nerve, anywhere from the lumbar spine to the foot.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica?
Sciatica is often characterised by:
- The pain often originates at the lower back and extends along the Sciatic Nerve
- The pain is usually described as worse when sitting or standing, but improves when lying down or walking
- The pain is often described as sharp rather than dull, and is often constant
- The pain is typically present on one side only, rather than affecting both lower limbs
Experiencing Numbness or Weakness
- This typically occurs when moving the leg or foot
- This may be experienced as ‘pins and needles’ or a prickling sensation down the leg
There are many simple measures that can be taken to improve or resolve Sciatica, some you can do at home and others require an expert opinion and care. The pain can often be relieved with basic DIY treatments, such as:
- Pain Medications – over-the-counter medications can help reduce the painful symptoms, and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) can lessen inflammation that is contributing to the pain.
- Heat/Ice Therapy – both heat and ice packs can help relieve pain. Some people may find one more effective than another, or alternating between the two is most beneficial.
There are a range of alternative treatments for sciatica, including:
- Massage Therapy
- Manual Manipulation
More acute pain can be treated with a steroid injection, also known as a transforaminal epidural or nerve block, which would be performed by a consultant. A steroid injection can be performed using medical imaging, such as CT, ultrasound or MRI, to guide the needle to the affected area. This way a consultant can target the precise location and cause of acute Sciatic pain. This can be done in an outpatient setting, meaning in the course of one day, at an outpatient centre.
Sciatic Pain can improve and resolve relatively quickly and typically will be gone in 6-12 weeks. However, if pain persists over an extended period, affects daily activities and quality of life and hasn’t responded to more conservative measures, such as those above, then a consultant may recommend surgery to resolve the issue.
When Should I Get An Opinion?
If you experience the symptoms above it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as you are able. Especially if the symptoms are severe or debilitating, it is advisable to seek an expert opinion and obtain a firm diagnosis. The underlying conditions that cause Sciatica can be severe and Sciatica may be the first signs of a more serious ailment.
Contact our team to find out more, on:
- 07540 123 227