The name sciatica is given to pain located in the path of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the largest and longest in the body and is responsible for giving sensation and strength to the leg.
It starts low in the spine and runs down the back of the leg to the toes.
Sciatic pain can be classified into four:
- Just sciatic pain: when there is no muscle or sensory weakness.
- Sciatic pain with soft signs: Muscle strength, normal bowel, and bladder functions, but with some mild sensory changes.
- Sciatic pain with hard signs: Bowel and bladder functions are normal. However, there are sensory and reflex changes and there is muscle weakness.
- Sciatic pain with severe signs: there are sensory and reflex changes, muscle weakness, and abnormal bladder function.
Sciatica has various causes. The most common is the pressure of a herniated disc to the sciatic nerve.
Leading a sedentary life, obesity, diabetes, jobs that require carrying heavy loads, and age are risk factors due to nerve wear.
- The main characteristics of sciatica are:
- Pain or tingling in one leg that begins in the back and radiates towards the back of the thigh.
- Pain in the calf and/or the foot, which is sharp and stabbing pain, gets worse when you are standing or sitting.
If muscle pain that lasts more than three days, you may require professional treatment.
Those who suffer sciatic pain, often describe it as severe and sharp. It is a red flag when pain begins to get worse to the point of becoming disabling.
Sciatica is often misdiagnosed, so the treatments given to the patient tend to be ineffective. Key questions your doctor should ask include: if you have had an injury if you have a recurrent fever if you have problems controlling your bowel or bladder, if you have or have had cancer, or if there is unintentional weight loss. Although the questionnaire is often sufficient for diagnosis, they could also perform sensitivity and strength tests, x-rays, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging.