Sciatica pain is caused by irritated, pinched, or compressed lower back nerves. Herniated or sliding discs impinge on the nerve root. With patience and self-care, most sciatica sufferers heal.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is nerve pain caused by an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve in the buttock/gluteal area. The sciatic nerve is the body’s longest and thickest (nearly finger-width) nerve. In reality, it is made up of five nerve roots: two of which originate from the region of the lower back that is referred to as the lumbar spine, and three of which originate from the final portion of the spine that is referred to as the sacrum.
The five nerve roots join to generate the right and left sciatic nerves. One sciatic nerve passes through your hips, buttocks, and down one leg, ending just below the knee on each side of your body. After there, the sciatic nerve divides into several smaller nerves that travel down the leg, into the foot, and into the toes.
True sciatic nerve “sciatica” injury is uncommon, although the phrase is widely used to describe any discomfort that begins in the lower back and spreads down the leg. This discomfort is caused by a nerve injury an irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression of a nerve in your lower back.
If you suffer from “sciatica, “You have mild to severe pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve route, which runs from your lower back to your hips, buttocks, and/or down your legs. It can also produce leg and foot muscular weakness, numbness, and an uncomfortable tingling pins-and-needles sensation in your leg, foot, and toes.
How does sciatica pain feel?
Depending on the etiology, people describe sciatica pain in a variety of ways. Sharp, shooting, or jolting pain is how some people describe their agony. Others have described the discomfort as “burning.” “Stabbing” or “Electric”
The pain may be persistent or intermittent. Leg pain is often worse than back pain. The pain may become greater if you sit or stand for long periods, stand up, or rotate your upper body. A forced and quick body movement, such as a cough or sneeze, can also aggravate the discomfort.
Can sciatica affect both legs?
Sciatica normally only affects one leg at a time. Sciatica, on the other hand, can affect both legs. It simply depends on where the nerve is pinched along the spinal column.
Is sciatica a quick effect or does it build gradually?
Sciatica can manifest either suddenly or gradually. It is determined by the cause. A disc herniation can cause excruciating agony. Spinal arthritis develops gradually over time.
What is the prevalence of sciatica?
Sciatica is a frequent ailment. In the United States, over forty percent of the population will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives. Back pain is the third most common reason people seek medical assistance. 
What are the causes of sciatica?
You are more likely to develop sciatica if you:
Have a current or previous injury: Sciatica is more likely if you have a lower back or spine injury.
Live your life: As you age, the bone tissue and discs in your spine naturally break down. Normal aging might expose your nerves to injury or pinching due to changes and movements in bones, discs, and ligaments.
Are you overweight: Your spine is similar to a vertical crane. The counterweights are your muscles. Your spine (crane) lifts the front-body weight. The greater the weight, the more your back muscles (counterweights) must work. This can result in back strains, aches, and other back problems.
Inadequate core strength: Your “core” muscles are those in your back and abdomen. Your lower back will be better supported if you have a strong core. Unlike your chest, where your rib cage offers support, your lower back is supported solely by your muscles.
Have an active, physical job: Jobs that entail heavy lifting or prolonged sitting may raise your risk of low back problems and use of your back.
Lack of good weight-room posture: Even if you are physically healthy and active, you can still be prone to sciatica if you do not use proper body form when lifting weights or performing other strength-training exercises.
Is it true that the weight of pregnancy causes sciatica in so many pregnant women?
Although sciatica is common during pregnancy, being overweight is not the primary cause of sciatica. A better explanation is that some pregnancy hormones cause ligaments to loosen. Ligaments connect the vertebrae, protect the discs, and stabilize the spine. Loose ligaments can make the spine unstable and allow discs to slip, causing nerves to be pinched and the development of sciatica. The weight and location of the infant can also put a strain on the nerve.
The good news is that there are techniques to alleviate sciatic pain throughout pregnancy, and the pain goes gone once the baby is born. Physical treatment and massage therapy, as well as warm showers, heat, drugs, and other interventions, can be beneficial. If you are pregnant, make sure to practice excellent posture practices to alleviate pain.
What are the signs and symptoms of sciatica?
Pain in your lower back, behind your buttocks, and down your leg that ranges from moderate to severe.
Lower back, buttock, leg, or foot numbness or weakness
Pain that intensifies with movement; immobility
“Pins and needles” feeling in your legs, toes, or feet.
bowel and bladder control problems (due to cauda equina).
How is sciatica identified?
Your medical history will be reviewed first by your healthcare practitioner. They will then inquire about your symptoms.
You will be asked to walk during your physical exam so that your healthcare professional can see how your spine supports your weight. Walk on your toes and heels to test your calf muscles. A straight leg raise test may also be performed by your provider.
Other stretches and actions will be requested to localize pain and assess muscle flexibility and strength.
Imaging and another testing may be performed based on what your healthcare professional learns during your physical exam. These could include:
X-rays of the spine to detect spinal fractures, disc issues, infections, malignancies, and bone spurs.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans are used to provide detailed images of the back’s bone and soft tissues. An MRI can detect nerve pressure, disc herniation, and any arthritic condition that may be pushing on a nerve. MRIs corroborate sciatica diagnoses.
Nerve conduction velocity studies/electromyography is used to investigate how well electrical impulses flow through the sciatic nerve and how muscles respond.
A myelogram is performed to establish whether the pain is caused by vertebrae or a disc.
When should I consult with my doctor?
Unbearable severe leg pain that lasts for several hours.
Muscle weakness or numbness in the same leg
Loss of bowel or bladder control. This could be caused to cauda equina syndrome, which damages nerve bundles near the end of the spinal cord.
Sudden and acute pain as a result of a car accident or other trauma.
Even if your visit does not result in an emergency, it is advisable to have things looked out for.
Is it true that the sciatic nerve is the only source of “sciatica” pain?
No, the sciatic nerve is not the only source of the pain associated with “sciatica” or “sciatica.” The source of the pain may be higher up in the lumbar spine, causing pain in front of the thigh or the hip area. This is still referred to as sciatica.
How can I know if my hip discomfort is due to a hip problem or sciatica?
Hip disorders, such as hip arthritis, typically cause groin pain, pain when you place weight on your leg, or pain when the limb is moved.
Sciatica is the most frequent cause of pain that begins in the back and travels or radiates to the hip or down the leg, as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg.
Finally, a word on sciatica
The vast majority of people who suffer with sciatica do not require surgical intervention. Usually, time and self-care therapy are all that are required. However, if basic self-care methods do not reduce your pain, consult your doctor. If necessary, your healthcare practitioner can determine the source of your discomfort, recommend alternative treatment choices, and/or send you to additional spine health professionals.