By Amelia Son, PTA

What Is Sciatica?

The quick answer is Sciatica is pain that radiates into buttock and down the leg. However, it must be understood that Sciatica can be resultant from many different things.

Sciatica can be treated at JOI.

Image of the sciatic nerve.

How Does It Occur?

The sciatic nerve is formed by spinal nerve roots stemming from the L4 to S3 vertebra. It is a large and bulky nerve that eventually exits the pelvis and runs down the back of the thigh, eventually making it down to the foot. Sciatica originates from the lower back and is caused by compression and/or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

What Are The Symptoms?

Sciatica has many symptoms that are common and patients can have one or more of the following:

  • Pain: It is usually a burning or shooting pain that can either be constant or intermittent. The pain originate in the lower back or buttock and can run down the front or back of the leg and even reach the feet.
  • One Side or the Other: Sciatic usually affects one leg at a time, but in rare cases can affect both.
  • Numbness: Another symptom of sciatica is numbness and tingling down the leg. The numbness and tingling can travel down in the thigh and can also be felt as low as the foot. With the numbness and tingling, some patients have a feeling of weakness that can affect their daily lives.
  • Posture: Some people struggle with different postures with regards to sciatic pain. While some may feel relief from standing, others may not and may prefer to sit. Others feel pain when bending over, twisting, and even lying down. Some relief has been known to occur while staying in motion like walking, but once stopped and standing still, symptoms may resume.

What Are The Causes?

There can be many causes to sciatica. Some are more serious that others and may require intervention. The following are common causes for sciatica:

  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A constriction of the space used for the nerves to exit the spinal cord and reach their designated space in the body
  • Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: When the discs between vertebrae are damaged and/or degenerating causing back and/or radiating pain.
  • Muscle Spasm: A muscles normal protective mechanism to avoid over stretching and injury. Most spasms usually clear up on their own, but if they do not, it is best to seek out medical attention to make sure it is not a serious issue.
  • Herniated Lumbar Disc: When the jelly-like center of a disc pushes through the weaker outer layers and places pressure on nerves
  • Spondylolisthesis: A spinal defect that causes vertebra to become unaligned in the spine and slip to one side or the other. This can usually cause back and/or leg pain in a patient.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: When there is improper movement of joints between the spine, sacrum, and pelvis. This can cause inflammation in the joints as well as pain in the lower back and down the legs.

Sciatica is not something to take lightly, although some light stretching can often help with symptoms, it is best to get a professional opinion to discover what is the underlying cause of sciatic pain being experienced. Here at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, we have multiple spine surgeons that can help discover the root of the pain.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician for sciatica.

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By: Amelia Son, PTA

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