Sciatica is a radiculopathy, which is irritation of the nerve as it exits the spine and is typically caused by compression/pinching along the nerve’s path. Most sciatica cases improve within a few weeks of the injury incident. Left untreated, it can become chronic sciatica and can have long-term repercussions and effects. A herniated disc is the most common cause if it bulges next to the nerve; it can pinch off the nerve or leak fluid onto the nerve, causing inflammation, swelling, pain, numbness, and weakness. Another common cause is spinal stenosis. As the body ages, the canal through which the nerve and spinal cord run can begin to narrow, placing pressure on the nerves. Then there are muscle spasms, spinal fractures, and spinal cancer. Anything that changes the curvature of the spine, including pregnancy, can cause sciatica.
The repercussions can vary or be a combination that includes:
The pain can be anywhere along the nerve; typically, it travels from the lower spine through the buttocks, down the back of the leg, and into the foot.
Berry, James A et al. “A Review of Lumbar Radiculopathy, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” Cureus vol. 11,10 e5934. Oct 17 2019, doi:10.7759/cureus.5934
Davis D, Maini K, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2022 Feb 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507908/
Giuffre BA, Jeanmonod R. Anatomy, Sciatic Nerve. [Updated 2021 Jul 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482431/
Nori, Subhadra L. and Michael F. Stretanski. “Foot Drop.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, Dec 15, 2021.
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