Sciatica is the pain in the lower limbs following the course of the sciatic nerve from the lower back, running down the back to the ankle reaching into the foot. The most common of sciatica causes is a herniated lumbar disk which causes sciatic nerve pain.
This disk dislocation pinches a nerve in the main spinal canal that causes sciatic nerve pain running all the way down to the big toe or the little toe, depending on the location of the pinched nerve. Disks are scientifically identifiable by a letter-and-number combination and a competent doctor, will be able to determine where specific nerves connected to the sciatic nerve runs to, thereby knowing why the pinch and the pain is radiating down the leg, maybe reaching up to the ankle, but may not be felt in the toes. In some nerve pinch, the resulting pain maybe felt in the knee or on the anterior thigh. This happens in cases where the nerve runs along the front of the thigh with the femoral nerve.
Sometimes, both the big toe and the little toe will experience sciatic nerve pain. This maybe possible when two disks herniated at the same time, but this is a rare occurrence. So, in this instance, the practitioner looks into the possibility of the whole of the sciatic nerve being pinched along its course, rather than the pinch emanating from the spinal nerve. The pelvis is one place where the sciatic nerve maybe pinched. A doctor uses physical examinations and tests to learn if the sciatica is lumbar or pelvic in nature. Sometimes sciatic pain may also be attributed to pressure or damage in the tibial nerve at the ankle; or pressure or damage of the peroneal nerve near the knee. Pain and numbness or weakness in the limb can be mistaken to be coming from a spinal disk problem. A specialized imaging like MR neugraphy or an electrical nerve testing device is used to diagnose this problem.
Sciatica appears to have come from the Latin word “ischiadicus”. This means pain in the hips. Up to the present time, sciatic nerve pain means radiating pain along the sciatica nerve from the buttocks to the leg. The pain may range from tingling sensation, numbness, muscle weakness or throbbing pain to totally debilitating pain. As previously discussed sciatic nerve pain is a symptom of an underlying medical problem which should be explored and examined by a competent physician. With proper medication, the pain usually improves in four to six weeks, although weakness and numbness may linger longer. Some treatments like hot packs, cold packs, physical therapy and stretching will help ease discomfort and enable the patient to return to normal physical activities. Surgery to remove the pressure on the nerve is reserved for severe cases and failure to respond to normally administered treatments.
Sciatica symptoms may also be brought about by other conditions like spinal stenos and spinal arthritis which occurs mostly on aging patients. Sciatica commonly affects the 30 to 50 year old individuals. Young people experiencing sciatic nerve pain should be examined for physical injuries or wounding either inflicted or through an accident which could have done damage to the sciatic nerve or its surrounding tissues and muscles. Over exertion or back injury from heavy lifting and constant bending may also be causing the sciatic nerve pain. The good news is that 80-90% of sciatica sufferers fully recover without the need for surgery.