Lower back pain that radiates to the back of the thigh and into the leg is a condition known as sciatica. Sciatica is the term that we use to describe the symptoms of the inflamed Sciatic nerve which is the longest nerve in the body.
Symptoms of Sciatica often present with pain (sharp at times)in the buttock area, or down the leg that gets worse when sitting. It may also cause burning; tingling or numbness down the leg. In some cases, weakness and an inability to weight bear or walk is evident.
Sciatica is common between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age. Most likely, it’s caused by a herniated disc, which occurs when the outer covering of the disc tears, causing the gel-like substance to leak and compresses on roots of the sciatic nerve. So if you already suffer from a low back pain, you’re more likely to experience sciatic type pain as well. It can also occur due to muscle tightness in the piriformis muscle (in the gluteal area), usually from prolonged sitting, or a direct fall.
While Sciatic symptoms may last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, most of the time, it responds very well to self-care and non-invasive measures.
Other more aggressive treatments may involve anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxants; narcotics may be prescribed for short term pain relief. Steroid injections or epidural injections may be recommended to subdue inflammation if more conservative treatments don’t help. Surgery is the last option, in severe cases where bowel or bladder incontinence is an issue.
At Trinity Rehab, we specialize in the treatment of sciatica and other spinal related issues. For more information, contact any of our Trinity Rehab locations.
By Michael Rizkalla, OTR/L