The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body which branches from your lower back through the hips and buttocks and down the back of each leg. Sciatica is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve, usually by a herniated disk or a bone spur. Other causes include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and even pregnancy.
Symptoms of sciatica usually include pain in the buttock down the leg, typically on one side, as well as burning, tingling, weakness or numbness down the leg. The pain may vary from a mild ache to a sharp burning sensation or like an electric shock. The pain is usually aggravated by prolonged sitting, walking, or bending at the waist and relieved by lying down. It’s important to see your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of lower extremity weakness and/or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Risk factors associated with sciatica include:
- Age such as age-related changes in the spine involving disk herniation and bone spurs.
- Obesity which causes stress to the spine.
- Occupation that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive for long periods.
- Prolonged sitting which may be due to a sedentary lifestyle.
- Diabetes which affects the way the body uses blood sugar, increasing the risk of nerve damage.
- Degenerative arthritis or lumbar disc disease.
- Trauma or injury to the lumbar spine.
Treatment for sciatica begins with medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Once the acute pain improves your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. Physical therapists can give you a rehabilitation program to help prevent any recurrent injuries and improve posture and back and core strengthening and flexibility. Some key things to remember to prevent sciatica from recurring are to exercise regularly, maintain proper posture when sitting, and use good body mechanics, all of which physical therapists can instruct to patients with sciatica.
We treat patients with sciatica, back and leg pain in the Clermont 34711 area!