What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a type of back pain cause by an issue with the sciatic nerve, usually injury or pressure. This type of pain can stem from the lower back and spread to the hips, buttocks, and legs. It is important to keep in mind that not all kinds of lower back pain are a result of sciatica, as this pain must be caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can come and go, it is not necessarily a chronic condition. However, if you have had sciatica once, there is a high likelihood that it will return.
What Causes Sciatica?
While the root cause of sciatica is irritation of the roots contained in the lower spine, additional common causes include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar herniated disc
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Muscle spasms in the buttocks or back
Where Can Sciatica Develop?
Sciatica occurs in the following area:
- Lower back
It is important to keep in mind that, while sciatica originates in the lower back, the resulting pain can stem to the legs, buttocks, and hips.
How Does Sciatica Affect the Spine?
Sciatica most often starts with a herniated disc in the lower back. When a disc herniates, it creates additional pressure on the surrounding nerves. When the pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve, the nerve that begins in the lower back and splits to run through the lower body, it can cause sciatica. Sciatica can cause a variety of problems all along the sciatic nerve.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
The most common symptoms of sciatica are:
- Constant pain on one side of the buttocks
- Pain in the buttocks or legs that becomes worse when sitting
- Pain in the hip
- Pain in the lower back
- Shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand
- Tingling or burning sensations in the legs
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
What are the Risk Factors for Sciatica?
Some typical risk factors of sciatica include:
- Age – Conditions that cause sciatica, such as a lumbar herniated disc, increase with age.
- Diabetes – Diabetes increases your risk of neve damage, including damage to the sciatic nerve.
- Obesity – Excess body weight increases stress on the spine, which can lead to pressure that causes sciatica.
- Occupation – Those who are involved in occupations that require heavy lifting are more at risk for a condition that causes sciatica.
- Prolonged sitting – Those who are remain sitting for prolonged periods of time are more likely to develop sciatica than those who are active.
How Do I Prevent Sciatica?
You can prevent sciatica with the following steps:
- Bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain correct posture