The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back, and down the back of each leg. It is composed of individual nerve roots that branch from the spine in your lower back and form into the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is not a disease
Sciatica (sigh-at-ih-kah) is a symptom that indicated a medical condition, and it can be recognized by one of these symptoms:
- Difficulty walking or standing up
- Constant pain in one side of your buttock, lower back or leg (never in both legs)
- Tingly feeling or burning down the leg
- Severe pain when sitting
- Difficulty moving, lifting, weakness or even numbness in the foot or the whole leg
Causes of sciatica:
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: It is caused by irritation of the sacroiliac joint.
- Pregnancy: The shift on one’s center of gravity, certain hormonal changes and even weight gain can be the cause of sciatica in pregnant women.
- Lumbar herniated disc: Sometimes experts refer to it as a ruptured disc, slipped disc, protruding disc, bulging disc, or a pinched nerve.
- Spinal tumor: The tumors in the lower back can pinch the nerve root.
- Degenerative disc disease: The patient is diagnosed with this usually when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that certain spinal level, and the inflammatory proteins from inside the disc are exposed and irritate the whole area.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: A condition characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Scar tissue: When a scar tissue compresses the nerve root.
- Piriformis syndrome: The piriformis muscle pinches the nerve root of the sciatic nerve.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: Mild stress fracture makes the vertebral body to slip forward on another.
- Muscle strain: The inflammation from a muscle strain can apply some pressure on the nerve root.
Doctors often recommend resting in bed. Other therapies include medications that relieve inflammation and pain, including injectable and oral cortisone, massages, physical treatments and muscle relaxation methods.
Lower back stretching exercises actually aggravate sciatica symptoms. Persisting sciatica caused by nerve compression at the lower spine sometimes requires a surgery.