The longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back of the spine to the knees. Sciatica or sciatic pain is the compression of the nerve in the last vertebrae of the lower back, which provides the sensory and motor functions of the leg.
Stating that sciatic pain usually starts mildly and increases in severity over time, Neurology Specialist Dr. Türkan Uslu gives important information about the subject.
What is sciatica?
The thickest and longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve, also known as the nervus ischiadicus, emerges from the last vertebra of the lower back and ends at the lower part of the knee. It divides into branches in the knee joint and reaches up to the feet and performs sensory and motor functions in this region.
Pain occurs in the leg as a result of stretching or compression of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar region. Sometimes, conditions such as inflammation, slipped vertebrae, tumors and cysts can also cause sciatic pain.
Sciatica pain, which starts with low back pain, spreads to the foot via the nerve. In severe cases of sciatica, the leg loses strength, and wrist and knee reflexes are reduced. The higher the person raises their leg, the greater the pain.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The most common symptom is pain moving from the person’s hip to the heel. Other symptoms are as follows:
- Pain with increasing intensity due to movement
- Weakness and numbness felt along the sciatic nerve path in the legs and feet
- Loss of movement in the following processes
- Painful tingling in fingers or feet
- Pins and needles in feet and fingers
- Urinary incontinence
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica pain usually starts with a herniated disc, but it can also occur for other reasons.
- Immobility: Prolonged inactivity can cause sciatic nerve pain. Sciatica is more common in occupational groups that require sitting for a long time.
- Obesity: Being overweight puts body weight on stress on the spine. Therefore, this situation triggers the formation of sciatica.
- Pregnancy: Sciatic nerve can be suppressed by increasing weight during pregnancy. In addition, the suddenly enlarged chest and abdomen can cause sciatic pain as a result of the change in the center of gravity.
- Lifting heavy: Sciatic nerve complaints are more common in people working in occupational groups where heavy lifting is required.
- Diabetes: Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, can damage the nervous system.
- Old age: Sciatic nerve pain may occur due to weakening of bone and muscle tissues with aging.
- Accident: Sciatic nerve pain may occur as a result of injury to the sciatic nerve tissue.
How is sciatica treated?
Different types of treatment are applied depending on the patient’s complaints, the cause of the sciatica and the severity of the sciatica.
- Analgesic drugs
- Epidural steroid injection
- Traction and spinal manipulation therapy
- Surgical intervention