The sciatica nerve runs from the lower back, down the leg and into the foot. Sciatica is the name given to pain experienced anywhere along this nerve. It can be mild or severe pain affecting the hip, back or leg, usually the outer part and usually only one side. For some people it becomes worse when sitting or standing and eases when lying or walking. It can also be brought on by a cough or sneeze.
Sciatica pain is caused by a compression of the spinal nerve. Due to this compression from the spinal nerve root, the intervertebral disc starts to degenerate thus causing severe pain. It is said that sciatica is not a disorder in itself but a set of signs pointing to the problem in the intervertebral disc.
Types of sciatica can result from the following:
Degenerative disc – inflammation as a result of excessive degeneration in one or more discs causing a leak in proteins, which irritate the nerve roots.
Isthmic Spondylolisthesis – one vertebral body slips over another as a result of a tiny fracture in a bone. With less space between discs nerves become pinched.
Lumbar herniated disc – sometimes called slipped or ruptured disc, where the soft inner material in the disc leaks out and causes irritation or pinching to the nerve root.
Lumbar spinal stenosis – this type, typical in those over 60 years old and occurring as a result of the natural aging process, is caused a narrowing of the spinal canal. It can be due to pressure from a bulging disc, soft tissue leak or inflamed facet joints.
Piriformis Syndrome – not really due to sciatica nerve pain but results from the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock, causing irritation or pinching to the sciatica nerve. It causes a similar leg pain to that of sciatica.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction – this is an irritation of the sciatica joint caused by a near-by nerve which again, like Piriformis Syndrome, causes sciatica-type pain symptoms.
Common symptoms you will experience include the following:
Constant sharp, dull or shooting pain in the buttocks, back, hip, leg or feet
This pain can be mild, radiating, severe, or even sharp and persistent
Muscle weakness, as well as having difficulty in sitting, or walking
Burning sensations in most parts of the body
General body weakness
Pins or needles especially on the legs
Our Assessment Process
Spines are our passion. We know them inside out, so mostly we are able to diagnose the exact cause of sciatica-like pain by eliminating other possibilities, for example, whether your pain is a result of piriformis syndrome or a lumbar herniated disc. We boast world-class diagnostic facilities at our London Spine unit, including a fully equipped suite of MRI, CT and x-ray scanners to help us assess, locate and eliminate any type of problem affecting the spine.
Our consultant doctors are all specialists at the top of their field and have a track record for making an accurate prognosis for patients very quickly. Getting to the root of the pain and problem quickly can make a huge difference to the rate of recovery and also prevent any further deterioration in the health of your spine.
What’s more, our doctors stay abreast of and contribute to research to understand spine pain and this means we are also able to provide our patients with the most up-to-date, and least invasive, treatment for their complaint. Because of this we have managed to successfully treat spinal conditions without resorting to spinal surgery in 90 per cent of cases when spinal surgery was recommended by others.
Specialist in Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery and Medical Director of The Spine Unit
Specialist in Spinal Surgery and previously worked as a consultant in Norway
I suffered a prolapse on a lower disc. We tried an epidural cortisone injection but the progress was not good enough. I had surgery about 4-5 weeks ago.
The London Spine Unit was established in 2005 and has successfully treated over 5000 patients. All conditions are treated.
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