Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to the sciatic nerve. This pain can disrupt your life in many ways. Sciatica is a symptom of a medical problem like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Many contributing factors may increase your risk of sciatica. Nerve pain can be difficult to treat, which is why you should see experienced orthopedic specialists right away, like those at the Colorado Center of Orthopedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You don’t want to wait until your pain becomes debilitating.
Also called lumbar radiculopathy, sciatica is a symptom of a medical problem, not a medical condition by itself. Having sciatica means one can experience mild to severe pain anywhere nerves connect to the sciatic nerve. The symptoms can affect the lower back, hips, buttocks, or legs. Some symptoms may extend as far down as the feet and toes, depending on the specific nerve or nerves affected. Sciatica is a very common condition. About 40% of people in the U.S. experience some form of sciatica in their lifetime. Men experience sciatica three times more often than women. Sciatica is most common in adults in their 40s and 50s, and it rarely happens before the age of 20 unless it is injury-related. Some causes of sciatica are preventable, but others happen unpredictably or for unknown reasons. Sciatica usually only affects one leg at a time; however, it can occur in both legs in rare cases.
ABOUT THE SCIATIC NERVE
The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest in the body and the main nerve in the leg. It is formed by the combination of nerve roots that exit the spine in the lower back. There are two sciatic nerves, one on each side of the body. Each runs through the hip and buttock on one side. They go down the leg on the side of the body until they reach just below the knee. Once there, they split into other nerves that connect to parts further down, including the lower leg, foot, and toes. The sciatic nerve plays a crucial role in transmitting signals between the spinal cord and the muscles of the lower extremities. It is responsible for motor function (muscle movement) and sensation (feeling).
WHAT IS SCIATICA?
Sciatica is when irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression affects one or more nerves that run down the lower back and into the legs, causing pain and other problems. There are two types of sciatica: true sciatica, which is any condition or injury that directly affects the sciatic nerve, or sciatica-like conditions, which feel like sciatic but happen for other reasons related to the sciatic nerve or the nerves that bundle together to it. Regardless of the type, the effects are the same. There are four different types of sciatic nerve pain: acute, chronic, alternating, and bilateral.