Sciatica is the name we give to the pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, and can be felt from the lumbar region all the way to the feet. Its effects are felt mainly in the lower limbs and can pose a health risk if not properly treated.
Follow along to learn more about sciatica pain and how to get treated.
The sciatic nerve is formed by the union of the nerve roots of the lumbar spine and descends to the lower limb, being the largest nerve in our body. Its diameter can reach 2 cm in diameter. The sciatic nerve passes through the gluteal region and is directed to the thigh, leg and foot through the posterior region, which are the places with the greatest symptoms.
Sciatic pain, also called sciatica, is a symptom arising from a sciatic nerve pathology. Thus, the patient complains of pain in the lumbar region that radiates to the lower limb, along the path of the sciatic nerve, and in more severe cases, loss of strength in the lower limbs. It is also possible that the patient feels changes in sensitivity, tingling and loss of strength in the lower limbs.
It is important to emphasize that not all lumbar pain that radiates to the lower limbs is due to sciatica, so medical evaluation is important! Sciatica pain is usually aggravated by bending or rotating the trunk, picking up weight, and in some cases, even coughing and sneezing.
Causes of sciatica
Sciatic nerve compression is the most common cause of sciatica pain. This compression can be the result of a herniated disc or bone spur, which causes inflammation in the affected area and, consequently, pain that radiates from the leg to the foot.
Some other causes of sciatica can be:
- Lumbar stenosis;
- Piriformis muscle syndrome;
- Spinal tumors;
- Neuropathies (such as diabetes);
- Inflammatory joint changes.
To relieve sciatic nerve pain, the patient will have to see a specialist who will analyze the symptom to find out its precise source.
Sciatica Relief and Treatments
Sciatica resolves spontaneously in a few days or weeks. Rest for a limited time may be necessary, but should be avoided for a prolonged period. The patient must cease physical activity, especially bending movements and carrying weights. Additionally, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or immobilization braces and orthoses may be prescribed.
Exercises and treatments highly recommended by experts are:
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga;
- Exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, such as physical therapy;
- Acupuncture in the area of pain;
- Slow walks;
- Massage to relieve pain and improve movement, decreasing nerve compression;
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