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What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is characterized by pain that starts in your lower back or hip and radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg. It may have a similar sensation to a leg cramp, or it may be more severe and render sitting or standing extremely painful. The pain may worsen upon sneezing or coughing. Patients also report feelings of numbness, pins and needles, weakness, and burning sensations down their leg, sometimes reaching to the toes. Rarely, patients also report being unable to bend their knee or move the affected leg’s toes and foot. Sciatica is a common problem affecting around 3 million U.S. residents every year, typically those in the 20 to 60-year-old range.

Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is a symptom of a deeper problem. It stems from a pinched nerve that affects lower spinal nerves as they pass into the leg.

Take a look at some common causes of Sciatica:

  • Herniated Disc – This will put stress on the nerve root and commonly causes Sciatica.
  • Piriformis Syndrome – A tiny muscle deep in the buttocks may become too tight and aggravate the sciatic nerve by putting immense pressure on it.
  • Spinal Stenosis – A narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on the nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis – If one vertebra slips off track with the vertebra above it, it narrows the nerve exit.

A medical professional can help you determine if you have sciatica. Many times they can perform simple tests to determine the cause of your pain, but may also include an x-ray to look for fractures or an MRI or CT scan to study an image of the back.

Sciatica Treatment Options

Treatment of sciatica is aimed at improving mobility and lessening pain. Sciatica can usually be easily treated by a number of approaches.

Some sciatica treatments include the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Anti-inflammatory spinal injections
  • Severe sciatica may require surgery

For many suffering from sciatica, pain lessens over time with proper rest. Approximately, 80-90% of people will recover without surgery and about 50% will recover in six weeks.

You can also work to prevent the onset of sciatica and protect your back. By quitting smoking, utilizing proper lifting techniques, working on your posture, and strengthening your spine and abdomen, you can lessen your chances of developing sciatica.

Suffering From Sciatica? Reach Out to ARMC Today.

Don’t live with the pain longer than you have to. Reach out to skilled medical professionals from Anaheim Regional Medical Center for qualified care that you can trust. Since 1958, our center has been caring for patients in the Anaheim community and promoting a culture of health, care, and wellness. For more information, call our offices at (714) 774-1450.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.