The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It starts in the lower part of the spine and runs all the way down each leg to the foot. When this nerve is irritated, stretched, compressed, or damaged it will cause pain. The pain can be slight in intensity or can be excruciating. Most often the pain begins in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the back and outside portion of the leg. Sometimes the pain can travel all the way from the lower back to the foot, but other times may stop in the buttock, upper leg or calf. Some people can experience sciatic nerve pain without any significant lower back pain.
In some instances the sciatic nerve irritation will cause numbness or tingling along the nerve’s path. In other instances the lack of proper sciatic nerve function can lead to muscle weakness in the leg, often identified as “foot drop”. You can test yourself by trying to walk on your heels across the room. If you can’t keep your forefoot and toes off the ground, then you may be experiencing muscle weakness. Likewise, you may want to try and walk across the room only on your tippy toes – inability to accomplish this may indicate muscle weakness due to nerve compromise.
Sciatic pain tends to be worse with prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Old mattresses that no longer provide proper support tend to aggravate sciatic nerve pain as well. Often sciatic pain is briefly and intensely aggravated by coughing or sneezing.
There are several causes to sciatic nerve pain – some inside the spine and some outside the spine. The most common cause is a disc herniation, sometimes known as a “slipped disc”. The damaged portion of a spinal disc can press on a portion of the sciatic nerve as it exits your spine. Stenosis, or narrowing of the canals your nerves pass through to exit your spine, and can also cause sciatica. Piriformis syndrome, caused by tight musculature deep in your gluteal area, can also apply pressure to the sciatic nerve. Lastly, a spondylolisthesis, or slippage of one spinal vertebra on top of the next, can also stretch and irritate the sciatic nerve.
One half of all cases of sciatica will resolve within a few weeks on its own. The rest may require the help of pain management physician, like the ones at Novocur Pain Management Clinics. Often a simple injection of an anti-inflammatory medication into the problem area will bring rapid relief. This treatment may be combined with physical therapy, chiropractic care or simple home treatments to achieve long term pain relief!
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please call 480.855.NOVO(6686). You may also visit them on the web at www.Novocur.com
Bio: Macy Fackrell is a SEO Specialist in Scottsdale, Arizona and a Business Marketing student at ASU W.P. Carey School of Business. She writes on a number of different topics including: cars, legal, home improvement, health and real estate.