We have a large nerve that is formed by the nerve roots that comes out of our spinal cord into the lower back, down through the buttock all the way down to our feet. This nerve is known as the sciatic nerve.
Irritation or compression (commonly bulging or ruptured discs) to this nerve can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in your lower back and legs. If you suffer from conditions that effect the spine, such as a slipped disk, spinal stenosis, bone spurs or a pelvic injury, sciatica can be a symptom.
- Numb/weak feeling or difficulty when moving your leg or foot
- Burning/tingling down your leg, a feeling comparable to a dull ache
- Sharp pain that may make it difficult for you to get up or to walk
- Pain that is worse when you're sitting
- Constant pain on one side of your buttock or leg
Treatment usually focuses on medicine and exercises to relieve any pain as in most cases of sciatica will improve and go away with time, however, it is common for it to return.
Sciatica: What do I have to do to prepare?
The only preparation you'll need is if a surgical procedure is needed. Your surgeon should make sure you know exactly what to expect with results and possible complications, including the side effects. A lot of the preparation will be for your return home to make your recovery as easy on you as possible.
Sciatica What's the treatment like?
Exercise: It's important if you have sciatica for you stay as active as possible. Bed rest will provide temporary pain relief, but walking and gentle stretching are recommended. Your GP or physiotherapist can recommend you a range of exercises.
Medicine: Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen for example) can be prescribed to help relieve pain and discomfort.
If you're suffering from chronic sciatica then a steriod called "amitriptyline" may be suggested along with an epidural steroid injection which can deliver a very strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the area around the nerves of your spine.
Compression packs: It is said that using hot and/or cold compression packs can help with sciatica, but there is no strong evidence that it does help.
Surgery: A surgical procedure can be used to help sciatica if a medical cause is identified such as a slipped disk.
Sciatica: What about after?
Patients usually stay in hospital for a few days after sciatica nerve surgery to make sure they get the bed rest neccessary afterwards.
Sciatica: Are there any risks or side effects?
The risks and side effects of sciatic surgery can be very high, the worst being death and paralysis. Both are highly uncommon, however the risks will be explained to you to at your consultation.