Sciatica - Back Pain
Sciatica is pain resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain of sciatica is typically felt from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee. The sciatic nerve is quite large, in fact, it is the largest peripheral nerve in the body.
Sciatica may be due to a ruptured inter vertebral disk, narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerve called spinal stenosis, or an injury such as a pelvic fracture. In many cases no cause can be found.
When you have sciatica, you have pain, weakness, numbness or tingling. It can start in the lower back and extend down your leg to your calf, foot, or even your toes. Itís usually on only one side of your body. Sciatica pain can range from a simple dull ache to severe electric like shocks. The pain can at times be so severe that the patient may hardly be able to move out of bed.
Usually patients complain of pain while walking or standing but at times reverse of this happens, the pain is worse while lying down in a normal sleeping or lying posture and patient has no other option other than to stand or walk or lie in certain uncomfortable posture. Patients with sciatica may suffer from additional symptoms such as numbness and weakness along the course of nerve, tingling and pins and needles feeling (mostly in the foot or toes) and loss of bladder and bowel control ( this an emergency medical condition).
The key to prevent sciatica is to prevent any damage to your lower spine. Maintain a good posture while sitting and use an ergonomically designed chair which properly supports your hips and does not press upon your back of the thighs and knees while sitting.
Treatment is initially aimed at addressing the inflammation associated with sciatica. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications (such as Motrin or Celebrex), and muscle relaxers are often good places to start.
Some patients require a more powerful anti-inflammatory treatment and are given oral steroids (often called a Medrol Dose-Pak). These steroids do have potential side-effects, but the powerful anti-inflammatory effect can be helpful in the treatment of sciatica.
Once the pain subsides, exercises and physical therapy are helpful. Most people (80-90 per cent) fully recover from sciatica without surgery.