21 Nov Sciatica: A Common Problem That Can Cause Major Pain
We are guessing you have heard of sciatica before. And if not, perhaps you’ve experienced it without even knowing what it was. Sciatica is one of the most common nerve -related conditions that causes pain in the lower back and legs. It is so common that an estimated 40% of us will experience it at least once.
A recent Yahoo! Life article published in mid-October, 2023 cites data showing that the term ‘sciatica’ has been searched on Google more this fall than at any other time in Google’s history. Needless to say that a lot of people are looking it up online.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition involving the sciatic nerve, a peripheral nerve that starts in the lower back, travels through the buttocks, and then down through the back of each leg. When this nerve becomes irritated, it can cause a variety of symptoms including pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. This is sciatica.
The thing about sciatica is that the pain associated with it can be debilitating. A typical case doesn’t have to be debilitating, but the possibility is always there. The other side of the coin is that sciatica is treated fairly easily. In many cases, it resolves on its own.
What causes sciatica?
You might also be interested to know that sciatica doesn’t have a single cause. The sciatic nerve can be irritated by any number of things. There are also plenty of locations along the nerve that are subject to irritation. Really, any irritation of the nerve that manifests symptoms is considered sciatica.
Inflammation in the lower back can result in the nerve being pinched. That is one cause. A ruptured or herniated disc in the lower back can also irritate the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be the result of:
- degenerative disc disease.
- spinal or foraminal stenosis.
- tumors and cysts.
- a variety of injuries.
Believe it not, even pregnancy can contribute to sciatica. With so much extra weight and pressure put on the lower back, it is not unusual for pregnant women to experience a bout or two of sciatica while carrying their babies.
What does sciatica feel like?
Sciatica gets interesting when you start talking about individual symptoms. Pain in the back of the leg is the most common symptom associated with this condition. It tends to be described as either a burning or shooting pain that travels down the back of the leg.
Some people have described sciatica pain as an electric shock that gets worse when they attempt to bend, shift their weight, or lift something. Sciatica pain can be exacerbated by sneezing or coughing.
Other symptoms include that same pins-and-needles tingling feeling you sometimes get when you mistakenly sit on your leg for too long. Some patients report skin numbness and even muscle weakness. In the most severe cases, muscle weakness can lead to loss of bladder and bowel control.
What are the treatments for sciatica?
Fortunately, muscle weakness and incontinence are the rarest of all sciatica symptoms. Most patients’ symptoms are limited to pain and a little bit of tingling. As for treatments, there are plenty to choose from.
When OTC pain medications don’t help and sciatica fails to respond on its own, Lone Star Pain Medicine can suggest a number of options including a lumbar sympathetic block, steroid injections, discectomies, and discoplasty.
We would be happy to discuss those treatment options with you when you visit us in our Weatherford pain management clinic. Sciatica is something we see frequently. It is a condition our doctors have a lot of experience with.