Lumbar Radiculopathy (you more than likely know it as sciatica), is a compression or irritation of one or more nerve roots located in the lumbar spine (your lower back). These nerves tend to travel to your buttocks, hips, legs, and feet, so an injury to your lumbar spine could result in symptoms in these parts of your body. Sciatica may arise from an assortment of issues with the bones and tissues of your lower spinal column.
Sciatica is a symptom of another condition that could include a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.
A herniated disc often is a cause of sciatica. This rupture in the fibrous outer wall of one of your vertebral discs means the disc 's soft nucleus more than likely will weaken, allowing that nucleus to bulge out, possibly pressing against a nerve rod.
Another cause can be degenerative disc disease, which happens when a spinal disc weakens, thus letting vertebral bones directly below and above the disc to shift, allowing the bones to touch, pinching nerve roots nearby.
A third cause could be spinal stenosis. Should spinal bones and discs degenerate, bony spurs can form and push into your spinal canal or foramen space. Known as spinal stenosis, this condition can also create pressure against your nerve roots, causing sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica include an ache, a mild tingling or even a burning sensation, usually in a leg, hip or even foot. It's usually just on one side of your body. In some people, the pain of sciatica can make be so severe, you're unable to move.
You may feel a sharp pain in your hip, or numbness. You may feel it on the calf or the side of your foot. The affected leg or foot also may feel weak.
The pain of sciatica, unfortunately, can start gradually and worsen with time. You also may feel the pain more acutely after sitting or standing; at night; when laughing, coughing or even after sneezing; when walking a short distance (this usually occurs when you have spinal stenosis); and when bending backward.
Injury to a nerve root can take place at any of the lumbar spine vertebrae (they are known as L1 through L5). Injury also could occur at the sacrum level (S1).
An injury at the L2 level could create thigh pain and weakness in the leg. An L3-level injury could mean thigh pain and knee and thigh weakness, while damage at the L4 level could mean pain from your lower back to foot (could also cause foot weakness). L5-level damage can create outer leg pain down to the top of your foot, as well as weakness in the foot. S1-level damage can result in pain from your calf to the outer foot and foot weakness.
Dr Kapadwala will conduct a physical exam that may show that you:
If you pain has been with you long or is severe, we also may prescribe additional tests such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs.
Sciatica is a symptom of another condition, so we'll have to identify the underlying cause of your sciatica before starting treatment.
Some sciatica cases recover on their own, while still others react well with simple, non-invasive treatments such as applying heat to the painful area (first trying ice for 48-72 ours, then applying heat) and taking OTC pain relievers containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Bed rest isn't recommended, although your physician probably will advise that you reduce your normal daily activities for a couple of days, then slowly restart them. Your physician also will recommend that you don't list any heavy objects or twist your back for about six weeks after symptoms appear.
Should you still be experiencing symptoms and/or pain, your physician may prescribe injections to reduce nerve inflammation as well as other medications that can help alleviate sciatica's stabbing pains. Your treatment also could include physical therapy.
Unfortunately, nerve pain is difficult to treat and should the problems persist, you may want to seek out a neurologist for additional treatment options.
Note that while sciatica often does get better on its own, it also tends to return.« Go Back