The disease sciatica is quite a commn type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve extends from your lower back down the back of each of your legs.
Sciatica, a pain associated with the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower spine to the lower legs is increasingly affecting young adults (30- 50 age group) owing to sedentary lifestyle and obesity. The most common reason for sciatica is prolapsed disc (commonly called disc bulge or slipped disc). Disc can bulge as a result of work involving frequent or sudden bending and twisting, long hours of sitting and lifting heavy weights at work. In sitting there is an increased intra-discal pressure of the spine which puts lot more load on the spine, as compared to laying and standing. Similarly obesity can put extra strain and pressure on your back, leading to sciatica.
Common symptoms of the condition
Although lower back pain is a common condition that affects as many as 80–90% of people during their lifetime, true sciatica occurs in about 5% of cases. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body running from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. Sciatica is different to general back pain. Sciatic pain can range from being mild to very painful. Any compression to the sciaticnerve can cause a pain that radiates out from your lower back and travels down your leg to your calf. Some patients even complain of impulse pain while sneezing, coughing or laughing, standing or sitting for a long period of time and while bending backwards. Patients who have long periods of numbness in the bottom, lower back and leg; loss of bladder or bowel control; feeling of weakness in the legs and foot must approach doctor immediately.
Although it is not always possible to prevent sciatica, there are several things you can do to help prevent a slipped disc or other back injuries that could lead to sciatica. General precautions could comprise of:
• Better posture at work
• Avoiding sustained periods of sitting
• Being careful while lifting anything
• Lifting using correct posture
• Important to do stretching before and after exercise and simple and regular exercises to improve strength and flexibility.
Various ways to diagnose the condition
Leading causes of chronic sciatica include disc prolapse, disc herniation, piriformis syndrome and muscle weakness. Patients with complaints of severe numbness, weakness in legs and bladder bowel dysfunction need urgent medical attention. Primary diagnosis is typically physical examination by your GP. Depending on your symptoms, your GP may feel it is necessary to have further tests, which may include a blood test to rule out infections, imaging tests such as X-ray or CT scan or MRI scan.
Treating persistent or advance stage sciatica usually requires a combination of self-help techniques and medical treatment. Treatment options are outlined include painkillers in injectable format or epidural steroid injection; physiotherapy; regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles that support your back. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkilling chemicals. Surgery may be an option to treat cases of chronic sciatica when, there is an identifiable cause, such as a slipped or herniated disc or if the symptoms are getting progressively worse
Surgical options may range from discectomy or fusion surgery or laminectomy or a combination of these. Before opting for spinal surgery, the orthopedic surgeon will discuss the relative risks and benefits with the patients.
A modern approach to treatment is using a combination of Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) test and treatment program. DSA Test is a non-invasive functional test of back musculature and helps measure strength, mobility and alignment, where 21 different parameters are plotted, helping spine specialists to accurately understand the root cause of the condition. This particular test is exclusively available in India at Qi Spine Clinic, India’s only chain of Spine Clinics, where the root cause of back pain is diagnosed, targetted, and treated.
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