Statistics show that back pain leads to high absenteeism at work. Much of this lower back pain is probably related to sciatica.
Although much of the lower back pain is related to sciatica, some pain can come from low back pain or herniated disc. It is important to know the difference between these three conditions and to consult your doctor in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
What is pain related to sciatica?
The pain related to sciatica is very keen. It can be felt in the thigh, leg, calf and sometimes even in the foot. The pain may persist for a few weeks then fade and come back later. The two sciatic nerves originate in the spinal cord at the level of the sacrum. They descend into the buttocks and then along the legs and end in the calf area.
They are the longest nerves in the human body and have 5 nerve branches respectively. A slight pinch or a simple jamming of the nerve is enough to cause inflammation and a very sharp pain. The pains are manifested on one side usually and especially in the buttock and thigh. In some cases, the pain can radiate all along the leg.
The causes of sciatica
Chronic sciatica is mainly caused by a disc herniation (displaced disc) that compresses one of the nerve branches of the nerve between the vertebrae of the spinal cord. In the elderly, the cause of sciatica sometimes comes from pressure on the nerve branches caused by degeneration (osteoarthritis) of the lumbar canal.
Athletes and people who exercise regularly may experience sciatica pain as a result of inflammation of the lower back muscles. Poor posture at work, too abrupt movement or an effort to lift a heavy load are other causes that can trigger sciatica. Any trauma to the back can be a possible cause. It can cause a slight displacement of the facet joints along the spine thus causing compression of the nerve endings of the nerve.
When to consult
In most cases, the pain of sciatica can last up to four weeks and then gradually disappear. On the other hand, it can come back again if no precaution is taken to avoid it. It could be among others low back pain if the pain is recurrent. It is therefore relevant to consult to have an accurate diagnosis and follow the appropriate treatments.
The problem becomes urgent when the pains are unbearable and disabling or when a loss of sensitivity is manifested in the lower back (perineum and thighs). This problem usually leads to incontinence, hence the urgency to consult quickly. Rapid weight loss for no apparent reason also requires quick consultation.
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