Sciatica is the nerve pain that occurs due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve which is the largest nerve in the human body. This nerve begins in the lower back and ends in the lower limb passing through the buttocks. Therefore, the pain is felt in the lower back which radiates to the lower limb from behind the thigh. Usually, the pain is felt only on one side of the body. In most of the people, the pain goes away within a few weeks but it can sometimes last for several months or even years.
The symptoms which are commonly exhibited by people with sciatica are:
Seek immediate medical help if:
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed due to the herniated disk in the spine or by an overgrowth of the vertebral bone. In rare cases, this compression can result from the tumors and gets worsened with conditions such as diabetes. Coughing or sneezing can also worsen the pain.
Other causes include:
The below factors increase the risk of a person to develop sciatica:
The doctor performs a physical examination which includes checking the muscle reflexes and strength by performing some activities. A simple test known as passive straight leg raise test is performed to detect sciatica.
If the pain is severe or if it does not improve in some days or weeks then the below laboratory tests may be ordered to know the exact cause:
Most of the people with sciatica do not need any treatment as the pain goes away within 6 weeks. Appropriate treatment is provided based on the underlying cause and the intensity of pain. The treatment options include:
Some of the self care measures which can improve the symptoms and relieve pain include:
Visit the doctor if the symptoms do not improve with self-care measures or if the pain persists for more than a week or if the pain is progressively worsening.
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Manika Saha, a patient from West Bengal got in touch with Dr. Venugopal Subramaniam, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Manipal Hospitals Whitefield through the OPD clinic programme and then later was guided by him towards a brain tumour removal in Whitefield, Bengaluru which gave her vision back.
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