What is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down through your buttocks and attaches to the muscles of your legs. When it becomes inflamed or irritated, these nerves may cause pain when walking, sitting or even sleeping. Most often, it occurs in older adults and those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Other causes include pregnancy, childbirth, certain medications and trauma.
Symptoms of Sciatica:
Painful sensations in the lower back, buttocks and/or leg when standing up from a seated position. Painful sensations during movement.
Painful sensation when lying down or bending over. Symptoms vary depending on which part of your body is affected by the sciatic nerve irritation. The symptoms are usually worse while sitting or lying down due to reduced range of motion in these positions.
Causes of Sciatica:
Diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) – DM2 is a chronic condition that affects the nervous system and results in high blood sugar levels. It is most common among individuals 65 years old and older.
If left untreated, DM2 can lead to blindness, kidney failure and other complications. People with diabetes mellitus type 2 have increased risk of developing sciatica because they tend to move their bodies less than others. Lack of activity can cause circulatory problems and contribute to nerve damage. Physical therapy and medication may be used to treat this condition. Parkinson’s disease – Caused by loss of nerve cells in a region of the brain that controls muscle movement, Parkinson’s disease typically affects older adults. It is marked by tremors, slow movement, rigid muscles and a general loss of balance. If left untreated, this condition can lead to complications such as dementia, depression and hallucinations. Nerve damage from this disease can cause hip pain, glute pain and back pain. These symptoms are common in individuals with PD. Nerve damage from this disease can also cause numbness, muscle weakness and uncontrollable reflexes in the legs and feet. Multiple sclerosis – This disease disrupts the myelin sheath that coats and protects your nerves. This condition causes problems with muscle control and sensation. People with this condition often experience numbness, blurred vision and dizziness. If the disease is severe, it may lead to paralysis, incontinence and inability to speak. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis however, medication can help manage some symptoms. Pregnancy – Several women experience sciatica just before or during childbirth because the pressure on their pelvis increases. This causes the piriformis muscle to tense up and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Normally, these symptoms disappear after the child is delivered. Long-lasting sciatica in new mothers may indicate another problem such as a herniated or bulging disk. Childbirth – If you experience long-lasting sciatic nerve pain after childbirth, you may have a condition known as piriformis syndrome. This condition occurs when your piriformis muscle becomes inflamed or strained due to prolonged periods of contraction during the pushing stage of labor. This muscle can also become inflamed due to pressure on the sciatic nerve from a baby that is in the breech position (feet first). Injury – Sciatica can be caused by sudden trauma such as car accidents, falls and sporting injuries. These types of injuries can damage the bones, tissues, muscles and nerves in your lower back, pelvis or hip area. This can cause the piriformis muscle to tense up and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.There are several prevention measures you can take to avoid future sciatica caused by injury: Wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle.
When sitting on a chair or bench, make sure you back and butt are fully supported.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body.
It originates in the lower back and runs through your butt and down the back of each leg. It supplies feeling and movement to parts of the leg, foot and toes. Nerve damage in piriformis syndrome typically causes pain and burning sensations that begin in your glutes and travel down to your feet. You may also feel numbness or tingling in the skin of your legs.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sciatica secondary to sciatic nerve schwannoma by M Hamdi, I Aloui, K Ennouri – Neurology India, 2009 – cyberleninka.org
Sciatica caused by perifibrosis of the sciatic nerve by U Merrild, I Sogaard – The Journal of bone and joint …, 1986 – online.boneandjoint.org.uk
Magnetic resonance neurography in extraspinal sciatica by AM Lewis, R Layzer, JW Engstrom… – Archives of …, 2006 – jamanetwork.com
Cyclic sciatica: a manifestation of compression of the sciatic nerve by endometriosis: a case report by R Dhôte, L Tudoret, C Bachmeyer, P Legmann… – Spine, 1996 – journals.lww.com
Cyclical sciatica: endometriosis of the sciatic nerve by K Mannan, F Altaf, S Maniar… – The Journal of …, 2008 – online.boneandjoint.org.uk
Cyclic sciatica from extrapelvic endometriosis affecting the sciatic nerve: Case report by JR Floyd, ER Keeler, ED Euscher… – Journal of Neurosurgery …, 2011 – thejns.org
Bipartite piriformis muscle: an unusual cause of sciatic nerve entrapment by C Wun-Schen – Pain, 1994 – Elsevier