Sciatica is a medical condition that is defined as pain in the lower part of the lumbar cord due to the irritation of the sciatica nerve. Sciatica causes radiating pain, numbness and tingling in the buttocks and legs that can extend all the way to the feet and toes. Sciatica pain usually starts from the lumbar or the lower back region and then trickles down to behind the thigh and then down below the knee. This pain occurs as the result of the sciatica nerve getting irritated, it is also known as sciatica nerve pain.
If a patient is suffering from sciatica, he will typically suffer from one or more of the symptoms mentioned below:
- Pain in the buttocks and legs which gets worse when in sitting position
- Tingling and burning sensation down the leg
- Numbness and weakness in moving the leg or foot
- Difficulty in moving the leg or foot
- Constant and regular pain on one side of the rear
- A radiating and shooting that makes it difficult to stand up
- Pain that extends to foot or toes
In severe cases the pain may result in lower extremity weakness and also loss of bladder or bowel control.
Common Sciatica Causes
As mentioned above the main sciatica cause is the irritation of the of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine nerve roots.
Other causes of the sciatica include:
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – This is a condition where the spinal canal is lower back is narrowed
- Degenerative Disc Disease – A medical condition where the discs that act as the cushions between the vertebrae break down
- Lumbar Herniated Disc – A spinal condition that occurs when the nucleus pulposus or the inner soft core of the disc leaks out to the annulus or the outer core and irritates or presses on the contiguous nerve root
- Isthmic Spondylolisthesis – A medical condition of the spine where one vertebral body slip forward on the other due to a stress fracture
- Piriformis Syndrome – Sciatica type pain can occur when the pirifromis muscle irritates or compresses the nerve root that comprises the sciatica nerve
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction – The sacroiliac joint is at the bottom of the spine and can compress the l5 nerve which in turn causes sciatica like pain
Sciatica pain is initially treated using conservative therapy, however sometimes the severity of the condition may only be treated with sciatica surgery. Common sciatica procedures include:
- A microdiscectomy (or small open surgery)
- A lumbar laminectomy (an open decompression)