Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Saira Farman
The longest and thickest nerve in your body is the sciatic nerve. When this nerve is injured, irritated, or inflamed, it causes sciatica. The sciatic nerve starts from your lower back and goes down through your buttocks, continuing down to the back of your feet. Sciatica Houston mainly results from a herniated disc. Sciatica can present as moderate or severe pain in your lower back, buttock, and down your leg. You can have numbness or weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg, or feet and loss of bowel and bladder control.
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Causes of Sciatica
Herniated or slipped disk
A herniated or slipped disc is the leading cause of sciatica. A herniated disc causes pressure on a nerve root leading to sciatica. About one to five percent of all individuals in the United States experienced a slipped disc at one point in their lives.
Spinal stenosis, also known as lumbar spinal stenosis, is the abnormal narrowing of the lower spinal canal. The narrowing exacts pressure on your spinal cord and sciatic nerve roots, leading to sciatica.
When one of your spinal bones extends forward over another, the extended spinal bone can pinch your sciatic nerve leading to sciatica. Degenerative disc disease is associated with spondylolisthesis.
Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular condition where your piriformis muscle contracts or tightens involuntarily, resulting in sciatica. Piriformis muscle links the thigh bone to the lower part of your spine. Sitting for prolonged periods, a fall, or experiencing a car crash can worsen your piriformis syndrome.
Cauda equina syndrome
Although rare, cauda equina syndrome is a severe condition that affects nerves at the end of your spinal cord known as cauda equina. This condition causes pain down your leg and loss of bladder and bowel control.
Treatment for Sciatica
Cold and heat therapy
Cold therapy involves wrapping an ice pack in a towel and applying it to the affected part for a few minutes twice or thrice a day. It is best used the first few days you experience sciatica symptoms to reduce pain and swelling. Heat therapy involves using a heating pad over the affected area to help relax your muscles. You can switch to heat therapy after using cold therapy.
Over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can help relieve pain, inflammation, and swelling. Do not use aspirin for extended periods as it can lead to ulcers or stomach bleeding.
Physical therapy improves your posture and strengthens your back muscles. It is mainly used alongside medications.
Your doctor can inject corticosteroid medications in the canal that surrounds your spinal cord, known as epidural space. The injections are only used briefly because prolonged use can cause adverse side effects.
Your healthcare provider can recommend surgery if you have severe pain, lost control of your bladder, or experience weakness in lower extremity muscles. Your surgeon can do a discectomy surgery where the part of the disc pressing on your sciatic nerve is removed.
Sciatica is the painful sensation when your sciatic nerve is irritated or injured. A herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and piriformis syndrome are the causes of sciatica. Schedule an appointment at Body Balance Chiropractic & Wellness Center for sciatica treatment to relieve your pain.