Sciatica is a commonly occurring type of pain which affects the sciatic nerve. Statistics demonstrate that 13-40% of the UK population will experience sciatica in at some point in their lifetime. Esteemed consultant neurosurgeon Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu explains everything you need to know about sciatica, including causes, risk factors and the most effective treatment methods.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a medical condition characterised by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the back of each leg. Sciatica typically affects only one side of the body.
Sciatica pain develops when something begins to compress or irritate the sciatic nerve. The pain may be extreme and be debilitating to the patient. It may also provoke some tingling or numbness in the back or bum, which can travel down the leg.
What are some common causes of sciatica?
The most frequent cause of sciatica is a herniated. However, it may occur due to conditions such as:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Piriformis syndrome.
What are the risk factors for development of sciatica?
The following factors may mean that you may be at risk of developing sciatica:
- Being between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Being overweight.
- Wearing high heels.
- Sleeping on a mattress which is either too soft or too hard.
What are some exercises and methods that can help to relieve pain from sciatica?
There are various exercises you can do and methods to use which can help to relieve pain from sciatica. These include:
- Knee-to-chest stretch.
- The pigeon pose.
- The seated spinal twist.
To aid pain relief you can also try some at home remedies such as applying heat or cold packs to the affected area, taking over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen.
It is essential to consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme, and if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe or persistent pain, weakness in the legs, or loss of bladder or bowel control, you must seek immediate medical attention.
How long does it take for sciatica to heal?
The healing time for sciatica depends on a variety of factors, including how severe the condition is. Sciatica pain usually goes away on its own within a few weeks. However, as previously mentioned, it is important to speak with your doctor if you experience severe or persistent pain.
What other methods can be used to treat sciatica?
Sciatica can also be treated with physical therapy and surgery.
There are two surgical options available to treat sciatica; discectomy and laminectomy. A discectomy removes the damaged portion of a herniated disk, while a laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone named the lamina.
Both procedures are used as methods of pain relief for pressure affecting the spinal cord and nerves.
If you would like to book an appointment with Mr Vindlacheruvu, do not hesitate to do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile today.