It has been estimated that over 40% of adults get sciatica at least once in their lifetime. The condition is quite common and treatable at the same time. It usually goes away within several weeks to a month with medication and physical therapy. Sometimes home remedies and exercise are sufficient. Find out more about the condition and its symptoms.
What Is Sciatica?
This is pain which occurs on one side of the lower back and goes down the leg. It occurs as a result of the sciatic nerve being compressed in the area of the lower back. This is the largest nerve of the body and extends along the entire leg. This explains why the pain flashes down. It is important to note that it is extremely rare for both sides of the body to be affected by this condition.
The compression (pinching) of the sciatic nerve can be the result of various conditions. The most common cause of sciatica is herniated spinal disc. Other possible causes include lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease, to name some. The compression leads to inflammation of the nerve and the sufferer experiences a range of symptoms. It is worth looking at them in greater detail.
The Most Common Symptoms
Pain is the major symptom of sciatica. It occurs in the lower back and spreads to the buttocks and the back of the thigh and calf. It may affect the foot too. It can range from mild to severe and patients often describe it as sharp and burning. Coughing and sneezing can send a shockwave of pain down the leg.
It is extremely important to note that sciatica pain gets worse with prolonged sitting. That is why patients are recommended to take short breaks from desk work and to stretch. Bed rest for a day or two may also be necessary if the pain is very bad.
Numbness and tingling in the affected parts of the body are other common symptoms which make things worse for the patients. In some cases, they are accompanied by weakness of the leg. Weakness is also possible. In fact, some patients who experience severe pain and weakness may be unable to walk.
The most serious symptom of sciatica is lack of control of the bladder and bowel. If you experience it, you must seek medical help immediately. In such cases, the recommended treatment is typically surgery for releasing the compressed nerve and reducing the inflammation.
If you experience the common sciatica symptoms and they don’t improve with applying heat and/or ice or taking OTC painkillers after a few days, see your doctor.