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Sciatica Pain in the Leg

sciatica in leg

Sciatica is a symptom of pain in the sciatic nerve of the leg.It is defined as pain radiating in the supply distribution of the sciatic nerve that starts in the Lumbar spine (lower back).

The condition is a common one that so many people suffer around the world and not just in South Africa. It tends to go hand in hand with lower back pain, but there are specific differences you need to know.

Further on in this article you can read what is sciatica, testing for sciatica, professional treatment for sciatica and home treatment for sciatica.

Hopefully this will help guide you to a the fastest route to finding some relief from this horrible type of pain running down the back of your leg.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica can be felt from the buttocks (gluts), down the back of the thigh (hamstring) into the back of the calf muslce and sometimes into the bottom of the foot.

Sciatica is an irritating stimulus to the lumbosacral nerve branches (L-4-5-S1-2-3) of the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Causes

The sciatic nerve can be irritated anywhere along its path. This can be from the nerve roots existing your spine, into the pelvis out through the buttocks, in the hamstring muscle, splitting behind the knee into the calf.

Some of the most common conditions to cause sciatica are:

  • Lumbar facet joint dysfunctions,
  • Ruptured herniated discs in your lower back,
  • Hip joint dysfunction and,
  • Piriformis syndrome.

Sciatica Treatment

Pain relief from sciatica is obtained by treating what is causing the sciatica.

Professional healthcare treatment is recommended as your first line of sciatica pain relief. This is important to identify the cause of your sciatica in your leg.

Professional Treatment of Sciatica

A spinal healthcare professional is the first person to consult. You can see your GP to start for pain relief medications. They would usually then refer you for what is called conservative treatment.

Using a healthcare professional is important to get the correct diagnosis as to the cause of the sciatica so if any self-treatment methods are used they do not cause further harm or delay in appropriate treatment if needed.

Professional healthcare treatment for sciatica should be conservative in nature firstly. Spinal surgery for sciatica is rare.

A chiropractor will look forst to diagnose the condition causing the sciatica and after create a treatment plan for the scitica cause. This may include rehabilitative exercises, desk ergonomic advise, referral to a GP/specialist for pain killer medication, referral for x-ray or MRI scans and finally if indicated referral for a surgical consult.

Typically back surgery is only considered for sciatica if there is progressive neurological disturbance that is also inhibiting function in daily activities of living.

Emergency surgery is indicated for cauda equina syndrome:

  • Loss of normal bowel/bladder control and/or,
  • Numbness around the anus.

If you have these symptoms you need to seek urgent medical help.

Self-Treatment of Sciatica

Once you have your sciatica diagnosis as to what is causing your sciatica and you have been appropriately advised by a healthcare professional then here are some basic self-help treatments for sciatica.

  • Ice the pain - use a covered ice pack for 20min per 1 hour for natural pain relief on the lower back.
  • Walk about every so often - do not stay in bed or sit all day and not move.
  • Pillow between knees in bed - pillow can keep your pelvis in a neutral position for sleeping on your side.
  • Perform McKenzie exercises - these are good exercises for a painful bulging or herniated disc in your lumbar spine. Do them only if your healthcare professional has advised you to do so.

Sciatica Exercises Videos

Here you can view some videos about sciatica exercises.

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