1. What is Sciatica?
2. What are the symptoms of sciatica?
To answer this Sciatica FAQ, the first thing to tell you is that sciatica is not a disease or disorder itself that causes symptoms, it is a symptom. It derives its name from where it is located.
So to answer this Sciatica FAQ, the feeling of “sciatica” is a tingling, burning and generally painful or shock-like sensation that follows the path of the sciatic nerve, from the mid-portion of the buttock into the back of thigh and knee and continuing down the leg. It usually occurs due to an injury to the fibers of this nerve.
3. How do I know if I have sciatica?
This is another question often asked as a Sciatica FAQ. Sciatica is a symptom of other conditions, but the typical “signs” of sciatica include pain or weakness and/or changes in sensation along the sciatic nerve path. These changes in sensation may include sharp jolts of pain like electrical shocks, tingling feelings, numbness, or changes in temperature perception, such as feeling increased warmth or coolness in the affected hip or leg. In sciatica, these feelings follow the route of the sciatic nerve:
- from the mid-buttock area into the back of the thigh
- from the back of the thigh to the back of the knee
- from the back of the knee to the lower leg
The pain may continue down the inside or the outside of the lower calf, ending in the toes or behind the inner ankle in the sole of the foot. Pain in the lower back may also be present.
4. I think I have sciatica. Should I see my doctor?
If you have symptoms interfering with your daily life and routine, a proper diagnosis is necessary. A physician will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms and suggest the appropriate treatment to help you. Therefore, it is important to consult with your doctor as soon as you feel like sciatica symptoms are making it hard for you to move and proceed with day-to-day tasks.
5.What cause sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by an injury in the fibers of the sciatic nerve. This injury can occur in several places:
- In the cauda equina: where the sciatic nerve exits the spinal canal (cauda equina)
- In the neuroforamina: where the sciatic nerve fibers travel through openings in the spinal column
- In the lumbosacral plexus: a bundle of nerves near the hip
- Below the piriformis muscle: Where the sciatic nerve leaves the pelvic area, low in the buttock area (Piriformis Syndrome) or along the leg
6. What causes injury to the sciatic nerve?
This Sciatica FAQ has many answers:
- Ruptured intervertebral discs: This is the most common cause of sciatica
- Piriformis syndrome: Compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle
- Pressure on the fibers of the sciatic nerve caused by narrowing of the spinal canal
- Spondylolisthesis: one vertebra slips out of alignment and presses on the sciatic nerve
- Tumors: this is rarely a cause of sciatica
- Sacroiliac Joint Derangement: bones in the lower back and buttocks become misaligned. This rarely causes symptoms such as tingling, numbness or weakness, but it often causes low back pain
7. How is sciatica treated?
This Sciatica FAQ also has several answers. Over-the-counter pain medications are effective for sciatica treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, help to reduce inflammation as well as relieve pain. Other answers to this Sciatica FAQ may include:
- Physical therapy
- Exercise and special positionings such as Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais
- Spinal manipulation
- Injections of anesthetics, steroids or Botulinum toxins
Changing environmental factors may be beneficial as an answer to the Sciatica FAQ. For example, desk height, or the firmness of a mattress may need to be adjusted. “Mind over matter” techniques are also sometimes helpful.
8. Can sciatica be cured?
Usually, the cause of sciatica can be identified, and the condition alleviated. Communication with your physician is essential. Be sure to ask for information and notify your doctor of any changes in your condition.
Pain caused by sciatica can be alleviated, however, drugs and medications cannot treat sciatica. Medicines prescribed by doctors and specialists treat the symptoms but do not have any effect on the underlying cause. The pain you feel may diminish or disappear for some time, but anything can trigger another jolt of symptoms as long as the back problems continue.