SCIATICA

The term sciatica is commonly used to describe pain traveling in the distribution of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom caused by a disorder occurring in the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, about the diameter of a finger.

Sciatic nerve fibers begin at the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebra (L4, L5) and the first few segments of the sacrum. The nerve passes through the sciatic foramen just below the Piriformis muscle (rotates the thigh laterally), to the back of the extension of the hip and to the lower part of the Gluteus Maximus (muscle in the buttock, thigh extension). The sciatic nerve then runs vertically downward into the back of the thigh, behind the knee branching into the hamstring muscles (calf) and further downward to the feet
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Sciatic pain can make life miserable. Walking, standing, bending over, driving a car, working at a computer, catching up on household chores, sneezing or coughing, and many other activities of daily living can cause sudden and intense pain. Patients who suffer sciatica, especially of a more acute nature, find the symptoms disrupt many aspects of their life.

How can one nerve cause so much pain?

One reason the sciatic nerve causes so much pain is because it is the longest nerve in the body! The nerve starts at the back of the pelvis and runs downward through the hip area and buttocks into each leg. Near the knee, the sciatic nerve divides into two nerves the tibial and peroneal nerves. The tibial nerve runs behind the knee and the peroneal nerve runs along the side of the calf and ankle. Through the tibial and peroneal nerves, the sciatic nerve innervates ('stimulates') the action of many muscles in the lower legs and enables feeling in the thighs, legs, and feet.

Sciatica Symptoms

Usually sciatica affects one side of the body. The pain may be dull, sharp, burning, or accompanied by intermittent shocks of shooting pain beginning in the buttock traveling downward into the back or side of the thigh and/or leg. Sciatica then extends below the knee and may be felt in the feet. Sometimes symptoms include tingling and numbness. Sitting and trying to stand up may be painful and difficult. Coughing and sneezing can intensify the pain.

Other Symptoms

Besides pain, other symptoms may accompany sciatica. These symptoms include sensations such as tingling, pins and needles, burning, numbness or muscle weakness. Such symptoms may be felt in the buttock, thigh, behind the knee, calf, ankle, and sometimes the foot.

Facts and Tips about Sciatica

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Early Germans called sciatica "the witch's shot." Knowing that it came on suddenly and was very sharp, they figured that it must have a devilish, demonic connection.

The Celts called sciatica "the elf's arrow." They didn't understand what caused the terrible pain that shot down their leg. To them, it made sense to believe that an elf had shot them.

Even today, the belief that sciatica is caused by mystical powers exists in some areas of the world. In very, very rural parts of Egypt, for example, people believe that devils they call junin cause sciatica.

Hippocrates (aka, the father of medicine he was born in Greece in 460 BC) observed that sciatica was most common in summer and autumn. Looking back from modern times, we can guess that he saw more instances of it because people were more physically active in the summer and autumn, especially with farming. However, Hippocrates believed people were more likely to experience sciatica during that time because the intense sun would dry up their joint fluid, making movement painful.

Hippocrates also believed that sciatica was more likely to affect the upper classes, especially the extremely rich who could afford to go horseback riding a lot. It was one of the best ways to get from place to place back then, but he must've thought that all the jolting and bouncing wasn't worth it if it caused such searing pain.

In ancient Rome, Octavia, the wife of Mark Antony (aka, Julius Caesar's friend), treated her sciatica with an herbal mixture: marjoram, rosemary, wine, and olive oil. That sounds much nicer than what one Roman doctor recommended for particularly difficult cases: hot coals, skin hooks, and bloodletting.

Shakespeare knew about the pain of sciatica, and he used it as a curse in his play Timon of Athens. "Thou cold sciatica, cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt as lamely as their manners"

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Sciatica Animation Video

 

Sciatica Animation Video Transcript:

The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body about as big around as your finger. They start in the lower spine, pass behind the hip joint, and go down the buttock and back of the leg to the foot. Pain from this nerve, called sciantica, may be felt from the hip to the big toe.

Sometimes the nerve is pinched between vertebrae, or its passageways are narrowed by arthritis or swelling of a sprained ligament in the area, and it becomes irritated and tender. A disk (the cushion between the vertebrae) may bulge out of place and press on the nerve. Rarely, an abscess, blood clot, or growth may push on the nerve. At times, no exact cause is found, but a movement that is normally harmless (such as bending over) suddenly brings on violent pain.

With a vast range of treatment protocols, physicians can now offer more patients lower back pain relief. The DRX9000 is designed to relieve pressure on the anatomical structures that cause lower back pain. This non-surgical procedure was developed for the treatment of pain and disabling lower back conditions caused by disc hernia ions, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, and posterior facet syndrome.

 

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