Sciatica: Meaning, Types, Causes, and Symptoms

About 5-10 percent of patients with low back pain suffer from sciatica. Although sciatica could be disruptive and painful, many people with it will recover within 6-12 weeks with the proper treatment.

If you think you are suffering from sciatica nerve pain, the below guide will be helpful for you to understand the meaning of sciatica, its types, symptoms, causes, and the options for treatment.

Meaning of sciatica

Sciatica means the irritation of the sciatica nerve. It is one of the longest nerves in the body. The sciatica nerve runs down from the lower back through the buttocks and each hip by going down to each leg to your toes. When a person suffers from sciatica, they ought to feel the pain that radiates along the path of this nerve. The severity of the pain may vary from each person. You ought to find the pathway of the nerve aches, or you may also feel the burning pain from the back down into your leg.

In many cases, sciatica affects just a side of the body. While sciatica may require treatment and diagnosis, it is usually a symptom of the underlying medical issue. If you get the proper treatment and are on the road to recovery, your doctor will be required to determine the condition’s cause and type.

Different kinds of Sciatica

Below are the two major categories of sciatica:

Neurogenic

It occurs when the sciatic nerve gets compressed. It can happen for many reasons. The type of sciatica often comes along with leg pain that may be much worse than lower back pain. A person with neurogenic sciatica may also struggle with symptoms like muscle weakness and numbness.

Referred

It is sciatica that is the result of an issue in an area of the body that’s near the sciatic nerve. A person with referred sciatica is unlikely to experience the symptoms of muscle weakness and numbness that can come with neurogenic sciatica.

Within the two major categories of sciatica, medical professionals may trace the condition back to the source of pain. Here are three common areas that may cause sciatica:

  • L4 nerve root
  • L5 nerve root
  • S1 nerve root

Causes of sciatica

Many differing underlying issues may cause sciatica. Here are the top common culprits:

Degenerative disc disease

It is the natural aspect of aging. The discs in our spines provide cushioning. This absorbs the shock of everyday movement. As we age, our discs start deteriorating through drying and even cracking. The condition does not always cause pain, but when it does, it is called degenerative disc disease.

Herniated discs

It may occur either in the upper or lower spine. If a herniated disc causes sciatica symptoms, it is most likely in the lumbar, spine, or down. The discs in your backbone have a softer center that provides cushioning and a more rigid exterior. When the disc turns herniated, part of the more peaceful center pushes through the exterior, leading to the irritation of the nerves in your spine, causing sciatica pain.

Stress fracture

It is also known as spondylolysis. The injury is quite common in younger athletes, but it may occur to anyone at any age. The fifth vertebra in your spine is quite vulnerable to spondylolysis. This type of injury is quite common for younger athletes. However, it may occur to anyone at any age.

Spinal stenosis

It affects the lumbar spine, which may lead to sciatica. Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal cord’s natural space narrows. The condition is usually the result of aging, but spinal stenosis may sometimes be congenital.

Symptoms of Sciatica

All the lower back and leg pain doesn’t need to be caused due to sciatica. Here are a few specific symptoms of sciatica:

  • Pain, the most apparent symptom, should be on one side of the body. The pain should be on your buttocks and lower back, or it may start in your back and travel down the back of your calf and thigh. The pain can reach the foot.
  • Other unpleasant sensations, like numbness and tingling, can also be a part of the pain. The tingling feeling may manifest in the foot or leg, and sufferers describe it as the prickling or burning needles and pins.

Sciatica treatment options

Once the doctor determines the underlying cause, the next step is to find the proper sciatica treatment. Here are what most people will discover sciatica nerve pain relief and recovery ultimately.

  • Lifestyle change
  • Physical and exercise therapy
  • Medication
  • Surgery

Conclusion

Most cases of sciatica do not need surgery. Self-care and time treatment are usually what is required. However, if simple self-care treatments do not relieve your pain, you should see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may confirm the cause behind the pain, suggest other treatment options and refer you to other spine health specialists need.

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