Radiculopathy

Get the details on radiculopathy.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a group of symptoms that can be brought on by irritation, including compression, of any one of the spinal nerve roots that connect to the sciatic nerves. Direct irritation of the sciatic nerves can also cause it. This situation is sometimes called sciatic neuritis. It is not a diagnosis of what is causing the irritation and resulting pain. It can be associated with radiculopathy.

Symptoms

In sciatica, symptoms are usually felt on just one side of the person's body -- such as the left and not on the right, or the other way around. The main symptom involved is pain, which can occur in areas such as the lower back, sections of the legs and feet, and the patient's buttocks. Additionally, the following symptoms may be present:

Leg movement/control difficulties
Numbness
Reflex impairment
Tingling
Weakness of the muscles

Causes

Compression of the nerves L4, L5, S1, S2, or S3 can lead to sciatica, as can compression of the sciatic nerve. The following conditions are some potential causes of it:

Piriformis syndrome - In some people (estimated about 15 percent), the sciatic nerve does not go below the piriformis muscle, but rather through it. In some cases, this muscle can compress the nerve.
Spinal disc herniation - This is also known as a slipped disc. When it occurs, it may irritate the roots of the sciatic nerve.
Spinal stenosis - In this condition, the spinal canal narrows and can cause compression on certain areas, including the roots of this nerve.
Trigger points - Muscles such as the gluteus minimus, medius, and lumborum are frequent trigger points.
Personal habits - These symptoms can be brought upon one's self due to certain habits. For example, standing each day for extended amounts of time can lead to such pain.


Additionally, during pregnancy, sciatica may be experienced.


Diagnosis

A doctor or medical professional may use a set of physical examinations in order to test for sciatica. The individual undergoing the tests may feel a greater level of pain during some of the actions that are done in the diagnostic process.

Treatment

The underlying cause, along with other factors, may determine what course of treatment is recommended by a doctor. For instance, in some cases, treatment of the cause of the compression should be administered in order to correct the situation. In some other cases, it may resolve over time. Anti-inflammatory medications may be suggested in order to reduce or relieve the pain that is being experienced. Physical therapy, weight loss, stretching exercises, and chiropractic manipulative therapy are some possible treatment methods. Surgery may also be undergone in some circumstances.

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