Usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc (also referred to as a bulging disc, ruptured disc, slipped disc). The problem is often diagnosed as a radiculopathy, meaning that a disc has protruded from its normal position in the vertebral column and is putting pressure on the nerve (commonly referred to as a pinched nerve). For most people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the pain might be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse. Usually, sciatica only affects one leg, and the pain radiates through the buttock and leg. Not all leg pain is the result of sciatica as muscles in the hip can refer pain elsewhere in the leg.
Specific to sciatica, one or more of the following sensations may occur:
- Pain in the buttocks and/or leg that is worse when sitting
- Burning and/or tingling down the leg
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the buttocks
- A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Symptoms that may constitute a medical emergency include: progressive weakness in the legs and/or bladder/bowel changes including incontinence (the inability to hold your urine).
Any condition that causes irritation or impingement on the sciatic nerve can cause the pain associated with sciatica. While the most common cause is herniated disc in the lower back, there are other conditions that can contribute to or cause it. Other common causes include a narrowing of the spinal canal (where the spinal cord runs), degenerative disc disease, arthritis, or an irritation and tightening of the piriformis muscle (a muscle in the buttocks).
Nerve pain is caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation on the nerve root, and treatment is centered on relieving both of these conditions. After a thorough examination to determine the cause of the sciatic nerve irritation, conservative treatments is designed to decrease pain and inflammation, improve flexibility of the muscles and mobility of the joints, and to improve muscular function and spinal stability. Sport and Spine Rehab specializes in determining the cause(s) of sciatica and resolving those through a targeted approach including manipulation of the spine, stretching, strengthening exercises, and pain relieving modalities.