Sciatica – An Overview:

Any type of pain and/or neurological symptom that is felt along the sciatic nerve is referred to as sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy in medical terms. The sciatic nerve is the longest and the largest nerve in the human body, about the diameter of a finger. It runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the buttock into the back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot. It serves a vital role in connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.

Sciatica is NOT a spinal disorder by itself but merely a symptom of a spinal disorder.

Symptoms Of Sciatica:

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of the rear
  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up

Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg.

Sciatica symptoms vary based on where the compressed nerve root is located and when more than one nerve root may be compressed, patients may experience a combination of the above symptoms.

For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the sciatica pain might be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse.

Causes Of Sciatica:

Sciatica could be caused by a number of causes and knowing what is causing the pain in your specific case is what your physician does before he institutes treatment.

The most common causes of Sciatica are listed below:

  • Herniated Disc: When one of the vertebral discs of the lower back (lumbar spine) projects outward and compresses on the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve, sciatica occurs.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis: This refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. When the spinal canal narrows down,it can compress the nerves that combine to form the sciatic nerve.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Disc degeneration is a natural phenomenon that happens with old age. However, these degenerated discs can also irritate the nerve root and cause sciatica.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This condition occurs when a small fracture allows one vertebrae to slip forward into another. The combination of the fracture, the disc space collapse and the vertebra slipping onto another can result in the nerves getting pinched.
  • Piriformis syndrome: The sciatic nerve can get irritated when it runs under the pirformis muscle in the buttock. If this muscle irritates or pinches a nerve root, sciatic pain occurs.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Irritation of the sacroiliac joint, located at the bottom of the spine, can also irritate the L5 nerve, which lies on top of the sacroiliac joint, causing sciatica-type pain.

Other things that may make your back pain worse include being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

Treatment For Sciatica:

Most often, sciatic pain can be controlled with home carelike bedrest, heat/ice therapy, warm baths, simple exercises and pain medication. However, if you have chronic sciatic pain it is important to ensure that the pain does not worsen over time. So we would advise you to eek the opinion of Competent medical practitioner in order to arrive at a proper diagnosis so as to treat the root cause of sciatica.

If your condition is diagnosed to be due to muscular problems, or if a slipped disc (intervertebral disc prolapse) is the cause, exercises, massage and application of medicated oil, Ayurvedic medicines or pain killers are often enough. If the pain does not get relieved with the above, Allopathic medical practitioners would advise an Epidural injection (Injection of steroids into the spine) or in some cases which are even more severe, surgery would be advised. This creates anxiety in most people due to the fear of complications.

Ayurveda offers a very good alternative option to you, if you want to avoid surgery and other invasive procedures. Ayurvedic treatment under competent Physicians comprising of Herbal medication, medicated oils, and Ayurvedic therapies like Podikkizhi (herbal powder massage), Ilakkizhi (Herbal leaf massage), Kativasthi (pooling medicated oils on the back), Kashaya vasthi (Enema with herbal decoctions), Ksheeravasthi (Enema with medicated milk) etc is very effective in relieving even severe and persistent sciatica without the need for surgery.


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