Sciatica is defined as leg pain that feels like a leg cramp or can be an agonizing, shooting pain that can make sitting or standing almost impossible.
The pain might be aggravated when coughing, sitting or sneezing. It can manifest abruptly or in a gradual manner. Sciatica can be accompanied by numbness, weakness or burning or tingling sensation radiating down the leg, even up to the toes.
What are the usual causes?
It is important to note that sciatica might be an indication of a pinched nerve that affects one or several inferior spinal nerves. The nerve can be crushed within or outside of the spinal canal as it moves into the leg.
Some of the conditions that can cause sciatica include the following:
- Slipped or herniated disc
- Piriformis syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
Management of sciatica
The objective of treatment is to lessen the pain and improve mobility. The treatment often includes limited rest, physical therapy and medications to manage the inflammation and pain. In some cases, a customized physical therapy regimen might be suggested.
- Medications – this includes pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and rigidity for improved mobility. In some cases, muscle relaxants might be given to lessen the discomfort linked with muscle spasms.
- Spinal injections – a shot of a cortisone-like anti-inflammatory drug in the lower back can lessen the swelling and inflammation of the nerve roots for improved mobility
- Physical therapy – the aim is to find exercise movements that reduces sciatica by minimizing the pressure placed on the nerve. In most cases, a regimen includes stretching exercises to improve flexibility along with aerobic exercise such as walking.
- Surgery – surgical intervention is required in cases that do not respond to conservative measures, have progressive symptoms and suffering from intense pain.