When the largest and longest nerve in the human body is pinched, you can bet that some intense pain will follow. Sciatica is a condition describing the pain that results from the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.
This large nerve, or bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the spinal cord or brain, starts in the lower back and reaches all the way to your feet. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower spine, travels through the buttocks and pelvis and then down the back of each leg until it reaches the knee where it splits into smaller nerve strands. At its largest point it is about the width of an adult man’s thumb.
Pain from sciatica usually shoots down the back of only one buttock or thigh. It may feel like a mild ache, a sharp sensation, a burning feeling, or extreme discomfort. Sometimes, sciatica also causes numbness, weakness, or tingling.
Standing up, coughing, sneezing, twisting, lifting, straining, or prolonged sitting may contribute to heightened pain. Pain may last for a few weeks, but if the pain continues after six weeks of treatment, surgery may be the best option to alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve thus alleviating the pain.
Treatment for sciatica includes hot and cold packs, physical therapy, medication such as over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and prescription pain medication. Exercises can be very effective in naturally treating your sciatica. The exercises done will depend on the source of the sciatica and how severe it is. Sciatica may make it difficult for some people to be active, but bed rest is not highly recommended for healing. Proper exercises suggested by a specialist are the most effective in helping people relieve their pain.
Minimally invasive back surgeries are also widely used to treat sciatica. Sciatica is the lay person name for radiculopathy. Using an endoscopic approach for nerve decompression is the most minimally invasive option for a surgery to remedy this problem.
Click here to learn about the SMART Clinic’s minimally invasive surgeries.