The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in our body, originating in the spinal cord and extending throughout the lower limb down to the foot. It has several functions, including:
- Managing movement
- Tactile and pain sensitivity in the lower limbs
When the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, we talk about sciatica.
Sciatica causes acute or chronic pain in the patient, which can be disabling as it affects the lumbosacral area and the lower limb.
Sciatica: What Are the Symptoms
The primary manifestation of sciatica is low back pain, often described as an electric shock that can radiate to the buttocks, legs -or just one leg – and feet. Along with pain, other symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
What Are the Causes of Sciatic Nerve Inflammation?
Sciatica can have several causes, such as:
- Nerve compression due to herniated disc/protrusion or arthrosis
- Trauma and accidents
- Poor posture
- Lack of movement
When to Contact the Specialist?
If the pain is particularly intense and does not resolve with anti-inflammatories and general pain relievers, it is best to contact a specialist.
Sciatica is diagnosed through a careful objective examination and possibly instrumental tests such as:
The physiatrist can identify the most appropriate pharmacological or physiotherapeutic therapy to relieve the pain and allow the patient to regain mobility in the affected area.
How to Treat Inflamed Sciatic Nerve
The first step is to alleviate the pain. Therefore, physical therapy techniques (such as TECAR, TENS, and ultrasound) are combined with drug therapy. These technologies aid in muscle relaxation at the lumbar level by:
- Performing endogenous heat (Tecar)
- Focusing on pain relief (TENS, US)
The next stage involves physio-kinesiotherapy, which includes manipulative treatments and postural education to improve spinal mobility.
Sciatic nerve inflammation often heals within a few days with anti-inflammatories and rehabilitative physical therapy.
However, in certain instances, such as with persistent herniated discs, a neurosurgical examination may be necessary to evaluate the need for surgery.