Sciatic nerve pain or commonly referred to Sciatica is the pain or numbness arising from the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve formed by nerve roots. These nerves come out the spinal column through the disc spaces. From the spinal column, it passes into the buttock, through the thighs, and then down to the legs. Sciatica, depending on what causes sciatic nerve pain, involves a wide range of pain from mild ones to the excruciating and debilitating type of pain.
Also depending on what causes of sciatic nerve pain, the duration of recovery may likewise vary. Some types of sciatica will heal themselves in a matter of six weeks while others may last longer than usual. While sciatica will improve over time, it could also require medical intervention for it to go away. Sciatica shares similar symptoms as lower back pain, however, the former makes walking, lying down and other types of movement more challenging. You will feel the loss of strength in the muscles of your legs and foot, which means that numbness or pain, may even reach your ankle and feet.
- 1 Symptoms of Sciatic nerve pain
- 2 What Causes sciatic nerve pain?
- 3 How to treat sciatic nerve pain?
- 4 Conclusion
Symptoms of Sciatic nerve pain
Learning about the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain is just as important in finding out what causes sciatic nerve pain. As mentioned above, a person suffering from sciatica will feel weakness in the muscles of legs and foot. The weakness of these muscles also comes with stabbing pains. Pain in the buttock, hamstring, and calf are also usual symptoms of sciatica. Pain in the legs and buttock generally occurs only on one side and in rare cases, on both sides. The pain gets better when you lie down, but strikes back or is aggravated when you sit or stand.
Apart from numbness and weakness of muscles, pins and needles sensation can be a common symptom as well. Any or a combination of the aforementioned symptoms will help you determine if you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain. Note that these symptoms are of big help to determine what causes sciatic nerve pain and which mode of treatment will absolutely work to cure sciatica.
What Causes sciatic nerve pain?
Given the risk that sciatica poses to an individual’s overall health, it is important to pay attention to the same as well as in finding ways to completely cure the pain. However, you approach in getting rid of the sciatic nerve pain will necessary include the identification of what causes sciatic nerve pain. Here is a list of ten conditions that are probably causing your sciatic nerve pain. Learn more about each of these causes below.
Lumbar herniated discs
One of the leading causes of sciatic nerve pain is the lumbar herniated discs. Discs are made of resilient tissues or cartilage that helps with the flexibility of the spine. When the gel-like nucleus of the discs breaks through the wall or pushed out of place, it presses pressure on the nerves and compress on the nerve tissues that cause the pain. Apart from the compression, the disc contains a chemical called hyaluronic acid with irritates and inflames the nerve. Hence, it results in the numbness of the muscle or its weakness.
Another causes of sciatic nerve pain is the lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is primarily caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal, especially in the lower back affecting the sciatic nerves. The lumbar spinal stenosis generally comes with aging. Adults would normally complain about this nerve compression disorder in their later years. In spinal stenosis, nerve roots break through the passageways along the spine called neural foramina. As the passageways get narrow or clogged, there will be nerve compression causing the debilitating sciatic nerve pain. With lumbar spinal stenosis, sitting or walking becomes painful.
Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease is another cause of sciatic nerve pain that often comes as you age. However, it does not negate the probability of acquiring the same by other reason aside from aging. The Degenerative disc disease can be attributed to different factors, of which injury is the most common. It may have developed from a specific injury and because the disc does not have the ability to heal itself, it eventually wears out or the injury might have progressed through time. The sciatic nerve pain associated with degenerative disc disease may arise from either inflammation or abnormal micro-motion instability. There is inflammation when the proteins found in discs spaces irritate the nerves around it. On the other hand, micro-motion instability is the inability of the discs to receive and respond to the stress on the spine.
The list continues with piriformis syndrome as another cause of sciatic nerve pain. Piriformis syndrome arises when the piriformis muscles irritate the sciatic nerve. When you love to dance, you have to thank this piriformis muscle, which assists in hip rotation. The said muscle is located at the lower part of the buttock and spinal column and is connected to the upper surface of the tailbone. When the piriformis muscle spasms, it causes pain in the buttock area. The spasm could either be at the muscle itself or the hip. Since piriformis muscles assist in the hip rotation and turning of the leg and feet outward, performing these movements would likewise be affected by the pain.
If you have been wondering what might have been the cause of your sciatic nerve, it is time to consider if it is the Spondylolisthesis. It is a condition characterized by a vertebra slipping forward over another below or adjacent to it. As it slips forward, it tends to pinch or compress the sciatic nerve thereby causing the excruciating pain to the lower back and legs. The slipping of one vertebra on the other is usually caused by a small fracture, which is a result of stress, on the bone that holds the joints together. Spondylolisthesis may occur at a young age, and is not congenital, or when a person is in his adult years. This condition usually occurs at the lowest level of the spine, thus the pain in the lower back or sciatic nerve.
While this is a rare case, a spinal tumor is also another cause of sciatic nerve pain that must be given medical attention. The spinal tumor may be rare, but sciatica nerve pain may arise by reason of the compressed nerves. The abnormal growth of the spinal column could either be benign or malignant. Unlike other causes of sciatica that heals itself, a spinal tumor will require medical intervention for the correct diagnosis. While the tumor can be benign, the procedure is still complicated and crucial because of the involved nerves around it.
The spinal cord is a common site for metastatic bone disease. The metastatic tumor in the spine may come from other primary tumors in the lung, prostate, and breast. Spinal tumor varies in size, type, and location. There are continuing studies being conducted to specifically identify its cause, however, there are cases due to a poor immune system that places them more at risk of acquiring the same. Symptoms of spinal tumor include numbness, muscles weaknesses, difficulty in walking, and loss of bowel function.
Trauma, as a cause of sciatic nerve pain, refers to the direct compression of the nerves by reason of some external forces. There is trauma when your spine is injured, which includes a fracture on the vertebrae. Trauma may be caused by vehicular accident, gunshot, or when you fall down from a game or sports. The pain occurs when there is either direct injury to the bone or spine or compression of the nerves. On more serious cases, however, the spinal column may lose its function and may disable movements. The severity of effects will necessarily depend upon the impact or injury.
Also a leading cause of sciatic nerve pain, especially at later years of life, is the Osteoarthritis. This condition is common to middle- or old-aged people. Osteoarthritis may result in the breakdown of cartilage, that reduces friction in the joints. When osteoarthritis involves the spine, it is called as Spondylosis or spinal arthritis. Spondylosis may further lead to disc degeneration and pinched nerves. In cases when the lumbar spine is affected, which supports several body movements, you are most likely to experience inactivity and difficulty in moving. An even prolonged movement like sitting or standing, despite being low-impact activities, can be a challenge. Treatments of osteoarthritis or spondylosis may depend on its severity.
When you have over-exercised yourself or engaged in high-impact activities or weight lifting, it is the time that you make sure your muscle strain does not and is not causing you sciatica. A muscle strain may cause inflammation and put pressure or stress on the nerves, hence, the sciatic nerve pain.
Pregnancy or weight gain
If you are gaining weight or becomes pregnant, you are more likely to experience the sciatic nerve pain. When you are pregnant, your body undergoes many changes and as you gain weight, there is a shift in the center of your gravity. Another reason why you experience sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy is the lack of support and engage in high-intensity or heavy-duty activities. Other experts suggest that the growth of your bump or baby inside the womb compresses the nerves, thereby causing the sciatic nerve pain. While there are medications to help relieve pain from sciatica, pregnant women have to be extra-careful and are highly recommended to ask for their physician’s advice.
How to treat sciatic nerve pain?
Finding out what treatment works for you necessary involves classification of your sciatica. As soon as symptoms or proper diagnosis has been given, do not wait for the pain to aggravate before you ease treat the same. Some pains heal by themselves through Home remedies for sciatic nerve pain, while others will require medical intervention. Self-care treatments include rest from heavy or high-intensity activities, application of ice and heat, use of ergonomic chairs and proper mattress, taking over-the-counter medication or natural remedies, and engaging in stretches or other exercises that provide relief to the pain. With regards to rest, it is advised that you alternate short rest with stretches machine or walking. Prolonged bed rest has also damaging effects to the body. For children and pregnant women can relief pain during sleep., it is imperative that you seek for an expert or physician’s advice before taking over-the-counter medications or alternative remedies.
In cases of serious sciatic nerve pain, there are procedures available to alleviate or get rid of the pain. These include physiotherapy on the back muscles, therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic therapy, traction, injection of a specialized enzyme to the disc, epidural injection or that which is introduced directly to the spine, and as last resort, surgery. As a precautionary measure and to prevent your sciatic nerve pain from getting worse, it is highly recommended that you see your doctor once you feel any or a combination of the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain. As emphasized, what causes your sciatic nerve pain has also something to do with the approach that one has to take in totally curing sciatica.
The spinal cord is one of the most crucial parts of the body. An injury to the spine would necessarily get in the way of our movement and hamper activities. As soon as you feel an uncomfortable and unusual pain, tingling, or numbness in your back, it is best to seek medical help. This will help you get the correct diagnosis and further rule out complication or serious condition. If permitted, take medications to alleviate and ease the sciatic nerve pain. Home remedies like an application of cold and heat, providing your back with ample cushion and support, and doing some stretches will help relieve the pain. Nonetheless, it is only upon the proper identification of what causes the sciatic nerve pain that will give you complete and permanent relief.