The Insight to Sciatica Pain

Symptoms and diagnosis for pinched sciatica pain

By Neurosurgery Singapore

Sciatica nerve pain main

Where is sciatica nerve?

Sciatica usually starts with a in your lumbar (lower) spine. Your vertebrae (the bones that make up your spine) are separated and cushioned by flat, flexible, round disks of connective tissue. When a disk gets worn down — either because of an injury or just years of use — its soft center can begin to push out from the hard outer ring.

When a disk herniates (slipped disc), it might put pressure on the nerves around it. Therefore this can cause a lot of pain when that happens to be the sciatic nerve. Understandably, sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. 

Sciatica pain what are the symptoms?

The most distinctive sign of sciatica pain is pain that radiates from your lower back into the back or side or your legs. Therefore you may experience backache or lower back pain as well as pain in other areas. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, severe pain. You can also get numbness, tingling, and weakness in your leg or foot.

Furthermore, sciatica pain that occurs after an accident or trauma, or if it develops in tandem with other symptoms like fever or loss of appetite, is a cause for prompt medical evaluation.

A few common of the symptoms of sciatica are:

  • Pain. Sciatica pain may be constant or intermittent. The pain is usually described as a burning sensation or a sharp, shooting pain. The pain is usually more severe in the leg compared to the back. Leg pain commonly occurs more in the calf region below the knee compared to other parts of the leg.
  • Altered sensation. Numbness, tingling, and/or a pins-and-needles sensation may be felt at the back of the leg.
  • Weakness. Weakness may be felt in the leg and foot. So a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg may make it difficult to lift the foot off the floor.
  • Change in posture may aggravate or relieve pain. Certain postures may affect sciatica pain:
    • Sciatica pain may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, standing for a long time, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, and/or while coughing.
    • Pain may increase or remain constant while lying down, causing disturbed sleep. Lying on the back with the knees slightly elevated and propped up with a pillow, or lying on the side with a pillow between the legs, may help relieve the pain in such cases.

“Sciatica refers to a number of symptoms caused by an underlying medical condition. Leg pain is typically noted as the most bothersome symptom of sciatica. You may also feel numbness, tingling, and/or weakness, typically affecting one leg at a time.”

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What types of diagnosis?

Our Specialist may ask and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have sciatica pain:

    • History of symptoms. The symptoms of sciatica varies from one person to another and depends on the condition that caused by irritation to the nerve. To diagnose sciatica, our doctor will first want to get your full medical history. This includes whether you have had any recent injuries, where you feel the pain, and how the pain feels.
    • Physical examination. Our doctor will include testing your muscle strength and reflexes. He might also ask you to do some stretching and moving exercises to determine which activities cause more pain.
    • Nerve test. This will allow our doctor to examine how nerve impulses are being conducted by your sciatic nerve and learn if there are any abnormalities. Hence, these tests may help locate the area involved and the degree to which the impulse is being slowed.
    • MRI, CT scan. These are the most common imaging tests used to diagnose sciatica and find its cause. A MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of your back. A CT scan uses radiation to create detailed images of your body.

Possible treatment methods?

The treatment of sciatica pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe sciatica symptoms, it’s important to consult with our nerve specialist for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. On the other hand, if you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, it is advisable to seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment for Sciatica

First line treatments of sciatica typically include some combination of physical therapy, medications, therapeutic injections, and alternative therapies.

Acute sciatica usually gets better with 4 to 6 weeks of nonsurgical treatment. For chronic sciatica with pain lasting over 8 weeks, treatment time may take longer and may also depend on the underlying cause.

Medication for Sciatica Pain

Prescription medications may be used to relieve sciatica pain.

These medicines are usually taken in order to obtain pain relief and allow the patient to participate in physical therapy.

Lumbar Therapeutic Injections for Sciatica

Lumbar therapeutic injections may help treat pain stemming from conditions that affect the sciatic nerve.

Epidural steroid injections may help relieve sciatic pain stemming from conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc herniation, or degenerative disc disease. Therefore the primary goals of this treatment include:

  • Control the inflammatory response around the sciatic nerve from chemical and mechanical sources of pain, such as a herniated disc or a degenerated disc.
  • Reduce the activity of the immune system to decrease the production of inflammatory cells in the body.

Surgery for sciatica is usually considered when leg pain and/or weakness is persistent or progressive even after several methods of non-surgical sciatica treatments have been tried. Our specialist has also help many to recover through nonsurgical treatment.

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