Sciatica is a condition marked by pressure put on the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, through your buttocks to the back of each leg. It is often caused by a herniated disk, which is the term given to the movement of the cushioning tissue between each of your spinal vertebrae. When the disk slips out of place or tears (often called a ruptured disk), it can be very painful. Most often, this occurs in the lower back, the so-called lumbar region, where most of the weight of your torso and head, are supported.
On the other hand, there are other bodily systems in the same region, and one of these could also be the cause of sciatica. These include spasms of the piriformis muscle, which is deep within buttocks and connects the upper thigh to the lower spine. Another culprit involved in sciatic pain could be degenerative arthritis in the spine, sacrificing spine health, or spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of sections of your spine, an occurrence associated with aging.
Other potential causes include what is called “fat wallet syndrome,” which refers to carrying around a bulky object in the back pocket of your pants. Over time, sitting in an uneven position can put pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Another temporary cause of sciatica is caused by pressure on the nerve of the growing uterus during pregnancy (and the weight of the growing baby). This usually resolves itself after delivery, but it can be quite painful and difficult during pregnancy when the weight of the infant is enough to worry about.
Sacroiliitis, an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which is the joint of the pelvis. An inflammation here could also put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Pain in the lower back is the primary symptom of sciatica. However, the pain often shoots through the lower back, through the buttocks, and down one leg. The pain is often searing and intense and dependent on what position you hold yourself in. However, in various cases, even a changing position does not help, forcing you to sit in a chair or lie down to relieve pressure on the nerve.
A diagnosis of sciatica is relatively easy to make, but finding the cause of the discomfort is critical so doctors can choose how to treat the patient. Diagnosis is done by a thorough exam and interview by the doctor and by use of imaging, such as a CT scan or an MRI. These imaging techniques show bone structures and soft tissue, often revealing what is causing the pain.
If you have a herniated disk, surgery might be required to relieve the issue; however, doctors most often recommend waiting on that decision, as 90 percent of sciatica incidents resolve themselves on their own.
Treatment might also involve pain medication, injections of anti-inflammatory steroids, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, and diet. Being overweight can contribute to the problem.
When to seek help
Seek help anytime your child’s gait appears abnormal or if it is causing pain to the child. In Tempe, call FXRX Orthopaedics & Bracing at 480-449-3979 for an appointment.