Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs down your thigh to the top of your knee. It is responsible for movement in the muscles of the thigh, and also carries sensations from this region.
- Usually affects only one side of the body.
- Can go away in a few weeks, without surgery.
What can cause sciatica?
- Herniated spinal discs.
- Bone spurs on the spine.
- Narrowed spinal canal (spinal stenosis)
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
- Pain from the lower back down to the buttocks, back of the thigh and calf.
- Tingling, numbness or pins and needles in this same region.
- Some people may experience weakness in the affected leg.
It is possible to have pain in one area and only numbness in another; not everyone has the same symptoms.
When is it an emergency?
- If the pain develops suddenly, after a fall or injury, and is severe enough as to be unbearable.
- If you are unable to control your bladder or bowels.
- If you develop sudden, extreme weakness or numbness that prevents you from moving or feeling anything.
Does sciatica get better without surgery?
Most cases that were not acute (in which the pain developed and increased slowly) heal very well and return to normal in a few weeks without surgery.
If there is a herniated (slipped)spinal disc, a large bone spur or tumor pressing on the nerve, or a fracture in the vertebra, surgery may be required.
How can sciatica be managed without surgery?
- Physiotherapists perform a variety of tests to gauge which tissue-bone, disc, muscle etc- is causing the pain.
- Treatments and modalities can be targeted to that specific issue.
- Postural correction and strengthening are vital to make sure the problem does not occur again.
- They will also assess your gait to understand if you have movement patterns that could be causing the pain.
You will be given exercises to do at home as well. It is important to also follow the physiotherapists instructions on posture, sleeping positions and activity to ensure you do not aggravate the pain. Causes of sciatica can be varied, so it is inadvisable to follow generalised exercise programs you might find online.
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