Are Restless Leg Syndrome Multiple Sclerosis Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Plantar Fasciitis Shingles Or Bursitis Related To Sciatica
While all these conditions affect either the spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments or joints and all can cause pain, none are directly related to sciatica. The main causes of these conditions are different. Sciatica only involves the sciatic nerve. That being said, the most similar condition would be carpal tunnel syndrome, which also involves a compression of a nerve.
A final word about sciatica. . . .
Most cases of sciatica do not require surgery. Time and self-care treatment are usually all that’s needed. However, if simple self-care treatments do not relieve your pain, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can confirm the cause of your pain, suggest other treatment options and/or refer you to other spine health specialists if needed.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2020.
The Universal Guide To Sciatica: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
In This Article:What Is Sciatica? | What Is The Sciatic Nerve? | What Are Common Sciatica Symptoms? | What Causes Sciatica? | How Is Sciatica Diagnosed? | What Are Some Nonsurgical Sciatica Treatments? | Do You Need Sciatica Surgery? | What Type of Sciatica Surgery Do You Need ? |
The sharp, shooting nerve pain of sciatica can take your breath away. When low back pain radiates through the buttocks and down the leg, the symptoms are known as sciatica. Although sciatica is common—affecting up to 40% of adults—there are many misconceptions about what sciatica is.
Leg pain that descends below the knee is the classic hallmark of sciatica, a type of lumbar radiculopathy. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
When Your Sciatica Just Wont Quit You Might Have A Misdiagnosed Case Of Piriformis Syndrome
If you’re struggling with a chronic pain in the butt, relief can be hard to find—especially if you have piriformis syndrome. The hallmark sign is hip and/or buttock pain on one side of the body along with low back pain that radiates down one or both legs.
Piriformis syndrome can be a real pain in the butt.
The problem is, piriformis syndrome is often mistaken for sciatica. While both conditions interfere with sciatic nerve function, sciatica results from spinal dysfunction such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Piriformis syndrome, on the other hand, occurs when the piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttock, compresses the sciatic nerve.
Your medical provider’s solid understanding of the structure and function of the sciatic nerve and its relationship to the piriformis muscle is key to distinguishing between true or discogenic sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
What Is The Outlook For Patients With Sciatica Is It Possible To Prevent Sciatica
Depending on the precise cause of the sciatica and the duration of symptoms, the outlook for recovery from sciatica ranges from excellent to having long-term chronic symptoms.
Is The Weight Of Pregnancy The Reason Why So Many Pregnant Women Get Sciatica
It’s true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The baby’s weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.
The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.
Taming The Pain Of Sciatica: For Most People Time Heals And Less Is More
Despite being a less common cause of , sciatica is still something I regularly see as a general internist. Primary care doctors can and should manage sciatica, because for most individuals the body can fix the problem. My job is to help manage the pain while the body does its job. When a person’s symptoms don’t improve, I discuss the role of surgery or an injection to speed things up.
Common Sciatica Cause #1: Lumbar Bulging Disc Or Herniated Disc
The discs in the spine serve several functions, including giving the spine its flexibility, acting as cushions for the vertebrae, and evenly transferring the load placed on the spine from one disc to another. Disc bulging and herniation occur more frequently in the lumbar spine simply because that part of the spine supports the entire weight of the upper body as well as whatever objects you may need to pick up.
Bulging and herniated discs are almost the same, but not quite. A bulging disc is a contained disc disorder. The gel-like center of the disc remains “contained” within the tire-like outer wall of the disc but can extend the outer wall enough to press on a nearby nerve or nerve root.
A herniated disc occurs when the nucleus breaks through the annulus fibrosus. It is called a non-contained disc disorder. Whether a disc bulges or herniates, disc material can press against an adjacent nerve root and compress delicate nerve tissue and cause sciatica. This compression can occur on only one side of the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms on only one side of the body or compress it on both sides and give you symptoms on both sides of the body .
A Real Pain In The Butt: The Anatomy And Pathology Of Sciatica
Posted on 1/26/18 by Madison Oppenheim
I just got back from a little trip to Mexico where I was sitting in a plane seat for four hours, unable to move or walk around. We’ve all been there: just as you are about to get up to stretch your legs and take a little bathroom break, you hear the little beep to get back in your seat and buckle up. Except I really had to pee—so I paused Captain America: Civil War and unbuckled my seatbelt. I was just about to get up when the flight attendant told me that there was turbulence and I had to stay seated. So I plopped back down, and then, in addition to my bladder pressure, I felt a little radiating tingle in my lower back that inched its way down to my left calf.
As it turns out, the pain I felt was not sciatic nerve pain, although it could have been. It was just a little reminder that occasionally my spine needs a little TLC.
Before we can get into the causes and symptoms of sciatica, we first have to talk about the nerve that’s responsible.
Image from Human Anatomy Atlas.
The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back, through your hips and butt, and down each leg, making it the largest single nerve in the entire body. It controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg, while also providing sensation to the back of your thigh, part of the lower leg, and even all the way down to the sole of your foot! This master nerve can sometimes get compressed or “pinched,” causing pain and discomfort in your glutes or leg.
Do You Want To Treat The Causes Of Sciatica Naturally At Home
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
This is a condition in which the spinal canal gets narrowed down in the lower region of the back. It is a common cause of compression of the sciatic nerve. Pain due to this cause is continuous in most cases.
Degenerative Disc Disease
DDD is a condition in which intervertebral discs are degenerated gradually due to age-related wear and tear changes, arthritis, dietary deficiency or any other cause. Intervertebral discs provide a cushioning effect. When the cushion effect is lost in the lower lumbar region, the sciatic nerve is compressed between two vertebrae, leading to severe pain.
A Herniated Disk in the Lumbar Spine
A spinal disk is comprised of two parts: the hard outer shell, and the soft inner contents that are protected by the shell. When the gel-like inner contents of the disk sticks out , that is referred to as a disk herniation. This can place pressure on the nerve roots that come out of the spinal cord, including the sciatic nerve.
This is a bony overgrowth on the vertebrae that may place pressure on the sciatic nerve, lead to compression of the nerve, and ultimately to sciatica.
It is a condition in which one vertebral bone slips forward over the other vertebral bone. This causes the compression or irritation of the root of sciatic nerve and pain is felt in the region of distribution of the nerve.
Wearing High Heels
Q Is Sciatic Nerve Pain Something I Just Have To Put Up With
A: No, sciatic pain does not have to be a chronic condition. The medical condition called “sciatica” is a major cause of work absenteeism and a major financial burden to both employers and our health care system. Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It begins as a bundle of nerves in your lower back and passes through your pelvis and down the back of each thigh. In the back of the thigh, the sciatic nerve splits into two smaller nerves called the tibial nerve and the peroneal nerve. The sciatic nerve carries impulses from nerves in your lower back to the muscles and nerves in buttocks, thighs, and lower legs. Sciatic pain consists of leg pain, which feels like a ‘pinched nerve’ or cramp, that can shoot down your leg to your foot, making sitting or standing very painful. Sciatica can occur suddenly, or develop gradually. You might feel a numbness, or a burning or tingling sensation in your legs or toes.
The exact nature of the relationship of sciatica to disc, nerve, and pain is not yet certain. A herniated or ‘slipped disc’ is the most common cause of sciatica, but there is no one basic cause. Not everyone’s spinal disks age at the same pace. Spinal disks lose their elasticity over time: they lose fluid and become brittle and cracked. These changes are a normal part of aging.
You can take steps to protect your back and reduce your risk for getting sciatica pain:
How Can I Tell If Pain In My Hip Is A Hip Issue Or Sciatica
Hip problems, such as arthritis in the hip, usually cause groin pain, pain when you put weight on your leg, or when the leg is moved around.
If your pain starts in the back and moves or radiates towards the hip or down the leg and you have numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg, sciatica is the most likely cause.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain And What Are The Treatments
Sciatica is pain related to compression and/or irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain is often felt in the lower back, back of leg, or buttock. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down each side of the body. Sciatic nerve pain affects around 40% of people at some point in life. The risk of sciatic goes up with age, since the intravertebral discs degenerate over time.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerves are formed by the combination of five spinal nerves from the lower spine. These nerves run from the lower back, through the buttock, and down into the thigh. The nerves divide into other nerves, providing sensory and muscular function to the lower legs and feet.
Using Shoes With High Heels And Arent Adequately Cushioned
Wearing high-heeled shoes shifts your body weight and the center of gravity, forcing you to hunch forward at the hips. On the other hand, footwear without cushioned insoles contributes to transferring the impact of steps to the hips or back. These events can lead to stretching of the hip and the knee muscles alongside the sciatic nerve, resulting in irritation and compression.
What Can I Expect If I Have Been Diagnosed With Sciatica
The good news about sciatic pain is that it usually goes away on its own with time and some self-care treatments. Most people with sciatica get better without surgery, and about half of these recover from an episode fully within six weeks.
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if your sciatica pain is not improving and you have concerns that you aren’t recovering as quickly as hoped.
Immediate Action Required: Go To A&e Or Call 999 If You:
- have sciatica on both sides
- have weakness or numbness in both legs that’s severe or getting worse
- have numbness around or under your genitals, or around your bottom
- find it hard to start peeing, cannot pee or cannot control when you pee – and this is not normal for you
- do not notice when you need to poo or cannot control when you poo – and this is not normal for you
These could be symptoms of a serious back problem that needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible.
Neurological Symptoms That May Accompany Sciatica Pain
When the sciatic nerve is compressed, one or more neurological symptoms may accompany the pain.
A few examples of accompanying symptoms include:
- Weakness in the thigh muscles. When the thigh muscles are affected, there may be a weakness felt while attempting to bring the thighs together.
- Weakness in the leg and foot muscles. When the leg muscles are affected, there may be weakness while attempting to bend the knee or while pointing the foot and/or toes upward and/or downward. These issues may result in a foot drop—difficulty in lifting the front part of the foot while walking. There may also be difficulty in rising from a sitting position or attempting to walk on tiptoes.
Know More About Various Treatment Options For Sciatica
Sciatica treatment plans and methods may vary from patient to patient. Some may benefit more from exercise, but others may not. Treatment therapy can only be effective if you know the underlying cause of your sciatica.
If you have no idea what causes your sciatica, discuss possible diagnostic or assessment procedures with a doctor to fully understand the causes, symptoms, complications, and appropriate treatment modalities for your Sciatica.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Sciatica
Sciatica is diagnosed with a physical exam and medical history. The typical symptoms and certain examination maneuvers help the health care professional to diagnose sciatica. Sometimes, X-rays and other tests, such as CT scan, MRI scan, and electromyogram, are used to further define the exact causes of sciatica.
That Hip Pain Could Actually Be A Sciatica Problem
Your hips are incredibly active joints and no strangers to the occasional ache and pain, especially as you get older. But searing pain in one of your hips may have nothing to do with your hip at all, but a pinched nerve root in your lower back.
At Healthy Life Family Medicinein Goodyear, Arizona, Dr. John Monroe understands the many conditions that can lead to radiating pain. One of the biggest culprits in this regard is sciatica, which develops when certain nerve roots in your lower back are irritated or compressed, causing symptoms to travel down your sciatic nerve.
Here’s a look at how sciatica pain develops and why your hip pain may be a result of a problem in your lower back.
Commit To A Progressive Exercise Program For Long
When your doctor gives you the go ahead, make sure to make a focused effort to follow through with a controlled and progressive exercise program. Without it, your symptoms are likely to return and get worse over time.
There are many options to help provide enough pain relief for you to engage in exercise and physical therapy, such as use of ice and heat, pain medications, and possibly an epidural steroid injection. Physical therapists and spine specialists can tailor a pain relief treatment to make exercise tolerable.
The Key Differences Between Sciatica And Hip Pain
If you’re unsure of whether you’re experiencing pain associated with sciatica or pain from a hip injury or hip discomfort, the best way to tell for sure is to see a doctor. They’ll be able to diagnose your pain and help you with treatment options.
Pain with regular hip pain is much different and can be treated with ice, pain relievers, and rest. If you find that your general hip pain isn’t going away, then it may be time to be concerned about sciatica or other issues.
Symptoms Of Sciatica That You Need To Be Aware Of
Pain running down the back of your leg
The most obvious sign of sciatica is pain which runs down the back of the leg.
Many people confuse sciatica symptoms with other disorders.
If you have pain which runs into your leg but goes into the groin, side, or front of the leg, chances are there is nerve irritation but not from the sciatic nerve.
The most important way to diagnose sciatica is through a comprehensive examination by a doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor.
Sharp shooting pain in your leg
If the symptom your feeling is electric or shooting pain which is running down the leg this is an all too common sign of sciatica. Sciatica can cause a sharp pain to be felt when the sciatic nerve is irritated.
While many people consider sciatica to be a specific problem, it’s rather a symptom which is caused by a range of other mechanical changes in the body.
Numbness, weakness or difficulty moving your foot
Since the sciatica symptoms you experience affect the nerve, they can also affect the surrounding muscles in the area. This commonly occurs with bulging discs in the lower back where you can feel numbness or loss of sensation on:
– The inside of your knee,– Your Calf– The webbing of your first two toes– The outside or the sole of your foot
You may also experience other bulging disc symptoms such as weakness or have trouble moving your foot especially when:
Pain after extended periods of sitting
Pain aggravated by coughing, sneezing or straining
Treating Sciatica Pain And Managing Expectations
Many people think that the worse the pain, the more likely something bad is going on. However, this isn’t true for sciatica. The body can reabsorb the disc material that is causing symptoms, even for those with severe pain. So, treatment focuses on controlling pain and keeping people as active as possible. If the pain is excruciating, lying down for short periods can help, but prolonged bed rest does not. So, once the pain diminishes, I tell patients to get up and start walking short distances. Since sitting increases pressure on the discs in the lower back, I recommend avoiding prolonged sitting or driving. Many people try treatments like physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation, but evidence suggests that while these approaches may help typical low back pain, they are less helpful for sciatica. Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen can help. When they don’t, I may recommend short-term use of stronger, prescription pain medicines.
Patients often ask about spinal injections — where steroid medicine is injected into the affected area. It is worth considering for those with uncontrolled pain or for those with persistent, bothersome symptoms who want to avoid surgery. Injections can provide short-term relief. Like any procedure, it has uncommon risks including more pain, and it doesn’t seem to decrease the need for future surgery.
Common Sciatica Cause #3: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal nerve roots branch outward from the spinal cord through passageways made of bone and ligaments called neural foramina. Nerve roots pass through these openings, join with each other to become nerves, and extend out to the rest of your body.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common cause of sciatica
When spinal stenosis develops, these foramina become narrow or clogged, and the nerves get compressed. The decrease in space within the canal is typically the result of disc herniation, but can also be caused by other issues such as:
- Injuries to the spine, such as vertebral fractures or dislocations from trauma
- The development of bone spurs—an overgrowth of bone—or spinal tumors
How Your Sciatica Nerve Can Cause Abdominal Pain
A person may experience abdominal pain due to sciatica, which is caused by the compression of a nerve in the lower back. The symptoms of sciatica can be both temporary and permanent. This article will discuss abdominal pain as a symptom of sciatica and other possible sciatica causes that may include abdominal pain.
What Complications Are Associated With Sciatica
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a “drop foot,” might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
When Sciatica Symptoms Are A Medical Emergency
In some cases there are serious conditions which come on along with your sciatica symptoms.
If you have pain going down both of your legs, as well as loss of sensation around the inner thighs, buttock or back of the legs or an inability to control your bowel or bladder this is a medical emergency.
If you present with these symptoms it is vital you go to a hospital to have them checked out as the condition, known as cauda equina syndrome usually requires immediate surgical intervention.
What Are Some Nonsurgical Sciatica Treatments
Most patients with sciatica symptoms or lumbar radiculopathy improve over time and respond well to non-surgical treatments, such as medication, exercise and special sciatica stretches, and physical therapy . Spinal manipulation, such as chiropractic care, also can help reduce sciatica symptoms. In most cases, sciatica gets better in 4 to 6 weeks.
“Standard treatments for sciatica include PT, exercise, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, as well as OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ,” Dr. Wang says. “If that doesn’t work and the pain is acute, the next step is usually injection of an epidural steroid injection or a nerve root block.”
In some cases, a short course of oral steroids may be considered before trying steroid injections. Under a doctor or healthcare provider’s advice, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce swelling and sciatic pain. There are many types of OTC medication, such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen .
Common Sciatica Cause #6: Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is named for the piriformis muscle and the pain caused when the muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is in the lower part of the spine, connects to the thighbone, and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle.
The piriformis is a hip muscle that can compress the sciatic nerve when it becomes inflamed.
Piriformis syndrome can cause sciatica when the muscle spasms or becomes inflamed. Inflammation can cause the muscle swell and compress the sciatic nerve whereas the muscle spasms may impact people whose sciatic nerve runs through the muscle itself; this is because the sciatic nerve gets squeezed as the muscle contracts.
It is worth noting that piriformis syndrome may be difficult to diagnose and treat due to the lack of X-ray or MRI findings. Dr. Subach notes: “Having an experienced neurosurgeon or orthopedist perform your physical exam will make all the difference in the world, given the normal X-rays and normal MRI scans that typically accompany this cause of sciatic nerve irritation.”