Did you know the sciatica is not only the longest, but the widest nerve in the human
body? Running practically throughout your entire body, the sciatica nerve starts in the
lower back and moves all the way through the buttocks, down the legs and then stops
just under the knee.
When pain begins to be felt on this nerve, this pain is referred to as sciatica. Because
this word describes a pain, it is not actually a disorder or condition, but more of a
symptom pointing towards another issue that is occurring with the sciatic nerve. Pain on
the sciatic nerve can be mild or severe and often times is confused with just simple back
For many, the cause of experiencing sciatica is due to a slipped disk, but anything that
causes irritation to the nerve could result in sciatica. Along with pain, if a person is
experiencing sciatica, they may also have a numb or tingling feeling along the area
where the nerve is located, or in their feet or toes. Because of the location of the nerve,
pain could also be felt in the buttocks and down the backs of the legs. If sitting for long
periods of time, the pain or tingling sensation may increase.
Since sciatica is a symptom and not a condition, a few different conditions that could
result in sciatica are spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis, tumors throughout the
spine, infections or previous injuries on the spine. Though very rare, there is a more
serious ailment known as cauda equina syndrome, that can irritate the nerves in the
lower area of the spinal cord. If cauda equina syndrome is the cause, then seeing a
doctor as quickly as possible is necessary.
There are two types of sciatica, acute and chronic. With acute sciatica, simple fixes
such as over the counter painkillers, stretching, walking or even just switching back and
forth between a hot and cold compress can diminish the pain. With Chronic sciatica,
medical assistance may be needed along with self-care. A couple of options that might
be offered by a doctor are physical therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. If these
options result with little to no relief, surgeries such as lumbar laminectomy or a
discectomy, may be suggested.
When looking at possible risk factors, sciatica normally occurs in individuals who are in
there 30 to 40’s who participate in little to no physical activity. Another risk factor is jobs
that may require a person to be involved in heavy lifting for extended periods of time.
Though back pain is very common for women during pregnancy, most pain is not
sciatica. The back pain that is confused for sciatica is actually pain resulting from
hormones that have formed due to being pregnant. These hormones force a woman’s
ligaments to stretch, resulting in pain in the back for many women.
After being diagnosed with sciatica, most sciatica pain will leave on its own within about
4-8 weeks. If it does not and the individual has made lifestyle changes to attempt to decrease the pain, then more evaluations may be necessary to see if surgery is