Sciatica is a common symptom of lower back disorders in which the sciatic nerve is under pressure, causing it to emit radiating pain to the extremities. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and it is a collection of individual nerve roots that branch out from the spine in the lumbar region of the back. The nerve runs from the lower back through to the hips and posterior, and then down each individual leg through to each foot. This nerve connects the skin of the legs, muscles in the backs of the thighs, and muscles in the legs and feet to the nervous system. Pain in these regions can seriously hinder mobility.
Sciatica pain affects millions of patients, with approximately 3 million new cases each year. Most patients who experience sciatica are between 40 and 60 years old or older; however, it is not unheard of in children and young adults. One can identify sciatica by trademark factors such as leg pain, numbness, a tingling sensation, weakness, and other symptoms frequently occurring to only one side of the body. The pain usually gets worse when one sits and is a sharp pain that can impede one’s ability to stand or walk.
Many factors can contribute to sciatica pain, which is not a diagnosis in and of itself, but rather a symptom of a more involved problem in the lumbar region of the spine. Issues such as disc herniation, disc degeneration, spinal stenosis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction can all be responsible for the sensation of pain, in addition to other conditions.
Spinal vertebrae all contain a tough, outer shell and a soft, gooey interior. Herniated disc describes a tear in the outer shell, or annulus of an intervertebral spinal disc. When a tear is present, some of the soft material leaks out and causes irritation. Sometimes, the irritation can be pinching of the nerve root, which leads to sciatica.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Like herniated disc, degeneration of the spinal discs is commonly associated with getting along in years. When discs in the lower back degenerate, the vertebrae in the spine start to rub against each other. The discs act as a buffer between all the vertebrae that form the spinal column. Much like a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease can irritate the nerve roots around the affected disc. Bone spurs can also develop from degeneration, and they can press against spinal nerves and spark sciatica pain.
There are several issues that may be the source of sciatica, which is why if you are feeling the signs you should consult with a pain management physician to get to the root of the problem. Garden State Pain Control specializes in the treatment of sciatica and low back pain. Book an appointment today by calling 973-777-0304.