Sciatica is a collective term for the presence of pain as a result of the affectation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the body. It is located starting from the lumbar area to the buttocks and runs along the back of the thighs and ends below the knee area. The sciatic nerve functions both for the sensory and motor functioning of the back, buttocks and legs causing pain and difficulty moving when the sciatic nerve is affected. Sciatica is often confused with back pain; however, symptoms of sciatica may involve others aside from back pain, and your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor may be able to help.
Sciatica can be caused by a variety conditions. It often results from the compression of the sciatic nerve that may originate from the following causes or conditions:
• Herniated disc
Herniated disc is the protrusion of the disc outside the vertebrae. When the disc in the lower spine becomes herniated or “slipped”, it may put pressure on the sciatic nerve leading to sciatica symptoms.
• Spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the lumen of the spine where the spinal cord and other nerve passes through. When the lumen on the lumbar vertebrae narrows, it may compress the sciatic nerve that originates in this level causing sciatica symptoms. Spinal stenosis may develop due to age-related degenerations in the spine, presence of Paget’s disease or changes in the soft tissues in the vertebrae such as the ligaments.
• Cauda equina syndrome
Cauda equina syndrome is probably one of the most serious and emergent conditions that may affect the spinal nerves. The cauda equina is a group of nerve bundles at the end of the spinal cord (sacral region). When this nerve bundle becomes damaged or compressed, it may lead to permanent paralysis or loss of bladder and bowel control and inability to move the legs. When cauda equina syndrome is present, it may lead to more serious symptoms of sciatica.
• Spinal Tumors
Presence of a tumor in the lumbar spine may also compress the root of the sciatic nerve. Although the presence of tumor in the lumbar spine is rare, it may still lead to significant sciatica symptoms when they develop.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition similar to a slipped disc only that the disc slips forward over the adjacent vertebrae. This may result in the punching or compression of the sciatic nerve.
• Spinal infection
Infection along the spine may yield inflammatory process within the vertebrae that may lead to the constriction of the vertebral canal causing sciatic nerve compression. The infection may also directly affect the sciatic nerve causing inflammatory processes in the nerve root.
• Direct injury to the spine
Any injury affecting the spine may lead to the direct affectation of the sciatic nerve.
All of these conditions may lead to the development of sciatica. If you feel chronic back pains and other neuromuscular symptoms in your lower limbs, consult a health care provider for proper identification and treatment of your condition. Chiropractors specialize in the management of sciatica so consult a licensed chiropractor near you.