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Sciatica is characterized as an irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, a nerve that starts in the lower spine and travels into the leg and foot. Not all leg pain is sciatica, but sciatica involves leg pain.
Sciatica pain can feel much like a “toothache” type pain, sometimes sharp, stabbing or “electric shocks” going down the leg or foot. At times the leg can cramp or have sensations of “pins and needles” going up and down the leg. The sciatic nerve can be inflamed by a bulging or herniated disc. However, degeneration of the spine can also irritate the nerve. If degeneration is severe enough, the sciatica pain can come from a condition called spinal stenosis.Make An Appointment
Sciatica isn’t actually a condition, but rather a term used to describe symptoms that are caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. For this reason, sciatic nerve pain generally indicates there is an underlying problem in the area that is compressing the nerve.
Common conditions that can develop in the lower back that lead to nerve pain and other sciatica symptoms include:
• Bulging Disc
• Herniated Disc
• Spinal Stenosis
• Scar Tissue
• Spinal Bone Spurs
Causes of sciatica range from a herniated disc to a spinal cysts or tumor. Basically, any condition that develops in the lower back close enough to the sciatic nerve that can come in contact with it can cause sciatic nerve pain. A herniated disc in the lumbar back will usually cause sciatic nerve pain. In some cases, your doctor may use medical images such as CT scan or MRI to investigate the specific cause of your sciatica.
• Radiating pain worsened by sitting
• Sharp constant pain on one side of the rear leg that can affect standing or walking
• Weakness or loss of motor function in the leg or foot
• Numbness or tingling down one leg
Initial treatment for sciatica will come in a conservative form. Surgery for sciatica is often not required as the condition traditionally responds well to non surgical treatment. The only reason to consider surgery before conservative treatment would be if your physician had belief that permanent damage may occur if immediate decompression is not achieved.
Physical therapy can also prove to be an effective tool in your recovery from sciatica, and should be used for an extended period of time to help maintain spinal health and help prevent future injury. Although patients shouldn’t expect immediate results from their physical therapy, a large percentage of patients are able to notice symptoms gradually improved after a few weeks.
Chiropractic manipulation of the spine may help also be of aid by reducing the amount of separation of the surfaces in the joint resulting in an increased range of motion.