Sciatica is a type of neuralgia where the sciatic nerve is damaged or affected, which can result in a deep pain down the leg as well as weakness, numbing or tingling. It can often be very uncomfortable as well as very painful and because it involves the nerves, it makes it very difficult to treat. Sciatica and
Because the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body – running from the bottom of the spine, through the hip, knee and to the ankle – it can be affected by any number of things. Sciatica causes can therefore range and while pain caused by sciatica may be easy to treat with anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers, these causes need to be looked at in order to achieve long term relief.
Sciatica causes can include a condition called pirformis syndrome. This is when the piriformis muscle which is located deep in the hip socket is too tight or is very tense and puts intense pressure on the sciatica nerve which runs through it. It is sometimes said to be choking the sciatic nerve and affects it, which is what causes the deep and intense pain sometimes felt deep in the hip socket.
Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra has slipped in the back so that it is resting on another vertebra. This can cause inflammation and stress on the back as well as the surrounding muscles, which in turn puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Spondylolisthesis is one of the many sciatica causes which involve a back problem.
Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the canal in which the spinal cord runs. This is one of the sciatica causes which affect the back, again putting enormous pressure on the sciatic nerve. A physician would need to look at and diagnose this as the cause very carefully.
Sciatica causes from the back can also include a slipped disk or a herniated disk which can be as a result of a number of things, including a sports injury or pulling the muscle in an irregular movement. When a disk has herniated it pushes on the muscle, which can cause a lot of inflammation and stress on the area, which affects the sciatic nerve.
Tumours, osteoporosis, diabetes and even pregnancy can also be on the list of sciatica causes.
Once a physician has been consulted, many of the sciatica causes can be treated quite easily. Often a physical therapist can help to recommend stretches and exercises that will strengthen the surrounding muscles and take pressure off the sciatic nerve. For example, if the cause is piriformis syndrome, exercises to loosen the muscle can help loosen pressure on the sciatic nerve. Massaging can also help with this. Strengthening the surrounding gluteal muscles will also strengthen the area relieving pressure. Exercising, losing weight and keeping the back strong can also help in cases of a slipped or herniated disk. These are all examples of how physical therapy can help to target sciatic causes.
However, sometimes it is just rest that is needed as well as ice packs or heat packs on the inflamed area, especially if the sciatic cause is spinal stenosis. If muscles or nerves are affected by a sports injury, this may also be the case.
In the most extreme cases, sciatica causes are treated with surgery. A surgical procedure may be required for a doctor to physically help what ever the cause of the sciatica is.
It is crucially important to identify the sciatica causes in order to locate the problem and target it. This will help to alleviate the problem hopefully permanently.