Sciatica Pain is caused by a number of factors, including Piriformis Syndrome, lumbosacral muscle strain, spinal stenosis, ruptured discs, and emotional stress. A person who experiences the symptoms of sciatica may be affected by one or more of these possible causes. Let's take a look at each individual factor and what treatment options may be available.
Piriformis Syndrome: The Piriformis muscle is located in the buttock region, and connects the sacrum and other structures in the pelvis to the greater trochanter of the femur (upper leg). This muscle is responsible for the internal and external rotation of the leg when we are sitting, standing and walking. This muscle lies just above the sciatic nerve, and in some cases, the sciatic nerve runs directly through it. Due to trauma, injury, and inactivity of our bodies, the Piriformis muscle may become overworked and become chronically tight. This shortening of the muscle may cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, a condition that may be referred to as nerve entrapment or nerve compression. This pressure on the sciatic nerve may result in symptoms such as tenderness and sudden pain in the buttock region. These symptoms may be aggravated by sitting and after first getting up in the morning. The pain and discomfort may be centralized to the area where the nerve is being pressed on, or it may follow the entire path of the sciatic nerve. A tingling, numbing sensation may be felt in the buttock and leg when sitting.
- Piriformis Syndrome Treatments: Initial treatments for Piriformis Syndrome are the same as other types of sprain and strain injuries. Rest and treatments that reduce inflammation are appropriate to the first few days within the onset of pain symptoms. While in the early stage of recovery, a person should lie on their stomach and place an ice pack on the most painful area. Icing applications should be dome for 20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite. This treatment should be repeated every 2-4 hours. To improve recovery, some patients receive massage and heat therapy between icing treatments. The icing treatments may reduce inflammation, while massage and heat may break up tightness of the muscle fibers of the Piriformis muscle. Medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen may decrease inflammation. Piriformis injections and Botox injections may be performed in order to decrease pain or loosen up the Piriformis muscle.
Lumbar Herniated Disc: With the condition above, the cause of the sciatic nerve compression is from a problem outside the spine. With this condition, the problem exits due to degenerative changes in the spine itself. The sciatic nerve is actually derived from 5 individual nerve roots that exit the spine from the L4 through S3. Changes to the anatomy of the spine, such as osteophytes, Sacroiliac Ligament Tears, and bone spurs may crowd the space around the openings through which these nerves exit the lumbar spine and openings in the sacrum. The lumbar discs are particularly sensitive to the aging process that we all go through; because of the extreme weights they must bear as shock absorbers for the whole body. These discs are built thicker and denser to take on the significant loads they take on at our center of gravity. Yet they may wear out over time.
The discs may wear out over time, no matter what health precautions we take and how good we take care of our bodies. Yet there are some lifestyle factors that may accelerate the wear and tear of these important protectors of the spine. Repetitive lifting, poor posture, loss of flexibility, may inhibit the discs ability to absorb nutrients and heal itself. This may lead to a herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc or prolapsed disc.
These discs, also known as intervertebral discs, may wear out in their solid outer layer, and the inner contents may burst through these tears. When the ejected contents of the discs impact the spinal nerve roots, they may cause the symptoms of sciatica.
Sciatica pain symptoms related to lumbar herniated discs include sudden, sharp, electric pain that radiates to the buttocks and down the pathway of the sciatic nerve. Secondary symptoms include hypersensitivity, stiffness in the back, limitations in bending, tingling, numbness, and weakened reflexes.
- Lumbar herniated disc treatments: Treatments for sciatica related to disc changes include electrostimulation, laser light therapy, ultrasound therapy, hot/cold therapy, and weightlifting.