It is a radicular pain that runs along the distribution of the sciatic nerve, which is the lower back, buttock, back of the thigh, leg, and foot. This nerve emerges from the last two lumbar vertebrae number 4 and 5, and the first 3 sacral vertebrae number 1, 2 and 3. Sciatica comes from the name sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. Sciatica is a condition caused by inflammation, trauma or pressure on the sciatic nerve, and affects only one side of the body. It is a common pain that affects 15% to 40% of people worldwide. It commonly affects people in their twenties, and its incidence increases with age. There are two medical conditions which are the most prevalent diseases to cause sciatica, these two diseases are disc prolapse and lumbar spondylosis. Sciatica is not a disease by itself but, always a symptom of other diseases that should be treated to eradicate the pain, and that is why it is crucial to understand the causes and the risk factors of this condition.
1What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The symptoms affect the sciatic nerve course, which is the lower back, the back of the thigh, leg, and foot. Symptoms are not limited to sciatic nerve complaints but should be extended to include the symptoms of the actual disease that causes sciatica.
- Pain and numbness
Pain and paraesthesia, also known as numbness sensations, occur along with the distribution of the sciatic nerve. They are the classical symptoms for sciatica, exaggerated by walking because walking stretches the nerve. The pain can increase by coughing, straining, and sneezing and sitting, which should be avoided and resort to bed rest instead. Direct touching on the sciatic nerve areas will exaggerate the pain even further. The pain varies from aching pain to stabbing pain and even burning sensation or excruciating pain. If the pain is severe and started after a fall or trauma, maybe it’s because of a fracture of a bone along the course of the sciatic nerve.
- Muscle spasm
Patients with sciatica may suffer from muscle spasms along the lower limb and the back. This symptom is a sign that the patient suffers from disc prolapse.