What you need to know about sciatica

Sciatica is a complaint that affects the sciatic nerve. This can be due to squeezing, tightening or injury of the sciatic nerve that can cause prevailing soreness and stinging at the lower back. It can also cause lack of sensation of loss of strength in one leg. Technically, this is another symptom of another medical condition.

To understand sciatica is to become familiar with its anatomy first. The sciatic nerve is the lengthiest and the thickest nerve in the body. It comes from the lumbar plexus of the lower back and ends at the legs. Because of its extensive network, the sciatic nerve covers the skin on the legs, thigh muscles as well as the muscles of the lower leg and sole of the foot.

The discomfort a person with an injury to the sciatic nerve will vary and develop from mild niggling sensation to shocking pain that will immobilize the person. Sciatica will occur only on one side of the body – either on the hip, on one part of the leg, the back of a calf or at the sole of a foot. The type of ache gradually worsens in the evening, after sitting or standing for some time, sneezing or coughing or when bending the trunk backwards.

In order to diagnose sciatica, the doctor may conduct a physical exam that assesses trouble in moving the foot inward or downwards, discomfort when lifting the leg off the examination table, struggle when bending the knees or poor reflexes of the foot or leg. Some imaging tests may also be performed like x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or blood tests on severe cases of pain.

Since sciatica is a symptom of an overall medical condition, it pays to check the main cause. Most of the cases do not require any cure as it will eventually go way on its own. Most doctors will go for natural home remedies to relieve the pain. Injections that alleviate the irritation of the nerves may also be given with other prescription drugs. For severe cases, physical therapy may also be recommended.

Prevention from this type of nervous discomfort actually depends on what will cause nerve injury. However, avoid prolonged pressure on the buttocks to prevent compression or trauma to the sciatic nerve. Proper posture and using ergonomics also help. Maintaining regular exercise on your core muscles also keep the nerves in proper working order.