The sciatic nerve is made up of five nerves that meet on the left and right sides of your lower spine. S1, S2 and S3 (sacral nerves) along with L4 and L5 (lumbar nerves) combine together to form a sciatic nerve. It is the longest nerve in your body. From your lower back, it splits into your hips, buttocks, legs and feet on both the sides.
It is an important nerve as without it your legs would feel like jelly. It performs functions like giving strength to the muscles and skin of foot as well as the calf. It gives sensations in the parts below your knee, like joint, bones etc.
Sciatic nerve plays an important role in connecting the spinal cord with other parts of the body like skin and muscles of the thighs, legs and feet.
All of the nerves in our body are fragile, they can be damaged easily by stretching, applying too much pressure, cutting or any injury. If such things happen, the nerves would stop sending signals to and from the brain and stop many processes and movements of the body.
There are flat, flexible and round disks in your lower spine that seperate and provide support to the vertebrae. When these disks get damaged due to an injury or just by time, they put pressure on the nerves which are around it. When disks herniate they put pressure on the sciatic nerve and compress it, which results in sciatica pain. Sciatica is a pain that originates from the sciatic nerve. Its symptoms are felt on the path where the nerve runs.
Sciatica is a pain that spreads from your lower back to your right and left legs.
This damage to the sciatic nerve causes inflammation and extreme pain in your legs. You might not feel your legs as they get too numb. It is also described as a sharp or burning sensation. But it can be mild and light for some people. Even coughing or sneezing can make you feel something electric spark up in your back. Legs muscles get weak in sciatica and you feel tingling in them.
Let’s take a look at the factors that increase the risks of sciatica.
The first factor is age, people who get affected by sciatica are mostly in their 30s or in the middle, till 50 years of age.
Diseases like diabetes can damage your sciatic nerve.
Your job also becomes a factor if you have a constant sitting job, or you lift heavy things daily.
Sciatica may feel worse when the person is trying to change their posture, like sitting, standing, bending or even while coughing.
Much of the pain can be relieved if heat packs are applied or by walking. Not every pain in the back or leg is because of sciatica so that should be kept in mind.
There are various ways to treat sciatica. Prescribed medicines like muscle relaxants, antidepressants, etc are used for sciatica.
Physical therapy is done to ease the back, sciatic nerve and muscles.
Corticosteroid injections are injected in limited number near the nerve’s root to ease the inflammation.
If you feel your pain is getting out of hand and you can’t bear it anymore, you can get it treated by surgery. A piece of your spine that is putting pressure on your nerve would be removed in the surgery.
Did you know what sciatica pain was? Have you ever gone through an uncomfortable back pain? Let us know in the comments.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!