Everyday, thousands of people will modify their activities of daily living in an effort to not aggravate an ailment known as Sciatica. Movements such as bending, lifting or even standing can trigger the intense shooting pain that radiates from the lower back and into the buttocks or legs that most refer to as “Sciatica”. However, what most are unaware of is that Sciatica is not an actual condition, but a symptom of an underlying spinal condition.What is the real cause of Sciatica?
At each level of the spine there are nerve roots that exit on both sides of the spine and each of these nerves control a motor or neurological function. One of these nerves, the sciatic nerve, is the longest continuous nerve in the human body and runs from the lumbar spine through the buttocks and into the foot. When a spinal disc becomes herniated, or bone spurs form on the joints of the spine, the sciatic nerve can become irritated or impinged, causing the symptoms of Sciatica.
Most commonly, a lumbar disc herniation between the L4-L5 vertebrae is the cause of the irritation to the sciatic nerve. In other instances, Sciatica can be the result of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis or a condition that causes the discs of the reduction of space between the vertebrae, known as Spondylosis.
What Treatments are Effective for Sciatica?
For many people, conservative therapies such as physical therapy can be effective in reducing the effects of Sciatica. The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and abdomen (core muscles), which will help in maintaining proper alignment of the spine.
If physical therapy is not effective, more advanced modalities may be utilized, such as Interventional Pain Management. In many cases, the pain from Sciatica can be relieved using anti-inflammatory injections that target only the sciatic nerve.