Sciatica is the name given to pain that comes from the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve itself. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, beginning at the lumbar spine, passing through the buttock muscles and ending in the leg. Pain can be triggered by nerve injury, irritation or direct pressure. Pressure on the nerve can be caused by a disc prolapse, arthritis, tight buttock muscles and in some very rare cases, a tumour. It is common for sciatica sufferers to have experienced some back pain before sciatic onset. Sciatic pain is characterised by;
- numbness of the leg and buttock
- sharp shooting pain down the leg into the foot
- dull ache in the leg
- stiff and tender back and buttock muscles
- hip and/or lumbar spine stiffness
- *muscle wasting
- *altered reflexes
*in severe cases
In some cases, depending on the nature and severity of pain, referral for medical imaging may be required. This may be determined by the mode of injury and clinical findings during your examination.
Cause of Sciatic Injury
Sciatica can have traumatic causes such as slips, trips, falls, twisting oddly and lifting injuries. However, repetitive activity such as prolonged standing, walking, heavy lifting, twisting and bending may also cause sciatica symptoms. Coughing and sneezing may also bring on sciatic pain, when disc injury is present.