Sciatica is a symptom and not a diagnosis.Sciatica might be a symptom of a "pinched nerve" affecting one or more of the lower spinal nerves. The nerve might be pinched inside or outside of the spinal canal as it passes into the leg. It consists of leg pain, which might feel like a bad leg cramp, or it can be excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. The pain might be worse when you sit, sneeze, or cough. Sciatica can occur suddenly or it can develop gradually. You might also feel weakness, numbness, or a burning or tingling ("pins and needles") sensation down your leg, possibly even in your toes. Less common symptoms might include the inability to bend your knee or move your foot and toes.
Conditions that cause sciatica:
- A herniated or slipped disc that causes pressure on a nerve root.
- This is the most common cause of sciatica.
- Piriformis syndrome , This develops when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, becomes tight or spasms, which can put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal stenosis, This condition results from narrowing of the spinal canal with pressure on the nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis,This is a slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits.
Can sciatica be prevented?
Some sources of sciatica are not preventable, such as degenerative disc disease, back strain due to pregnancy, and accidental falls. Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of sciatica, you can take steps to protect your back and reduce your risk.
- Practice proper lifting techniques. Lift with your back straight, bringing yourself up with your hips and legs, and holding the object close to your chest. Use this technique for lifting everything, no matter how light.
- Avoid/ stop cigarette smoking, which promotes disc degeneration.
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles of your back and abdomen, which work to support your spine.
- Use good posture when sitting, standing, and sleeping. Good posture helps to relieve the pressure on your lower back.
- Avoid sitting for long periods.