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Sciatica (Nerve Compression)

Waist and leg pain are problems that almost all people experience at some point in their lives. Most of these pains are not caused by serious problems and usually go away on their own. However, in some cases, these pains may indicate serious underlying problems. For example, herniated disc and sciatica are shown as some of these causes. Although sciatica is a disease that can be treated, early diagnosis is important.


What is Sciatica?

The nerve that originates from the 4th and 5th nerves in the lower part of the waist, passes through the middle of the hip, and goes down to the heel is called the sciatic nerve. This nerve, which is called one of the most important nerves of the body, is also the longest nerve in our body. The sciatic nerve is responsible for providing leg movements. Therefore, if there is any compression or problem in this nerve, pain may occur in the legs. This pain occurring in the sciatic nerve is also called sciatica pain.

Although sciatica pain can sometimes spread to the back of the leg and feet, it usually begins in the hip and waist area. In some patients, it may expand to the groin area. The most common complaints of sciatica experienced by many people are loss of strength in the legs, decreased reflexes, and pain that worsens with leg movements. Sciatica pain may occur on one side or on both sides. It is possible for symptoms to become more severe as the disease progresses. Especially people who work in heavy labor and do not exercise regularly are in the risk group.

Siyatik (Sinir Sıkışması)

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

The most common symptom of sciatic nerve compression is pain extending from the waist to the feet. Pain usually gets worse during movement. In later stages of the disease, weakness and even permanent loss of movement in the legs may occur. The most common symptoms of sciatica are:

Tingling in the lower legs or feet,
Ability to move the foot by dragging in the area where the pain is located,
Movements begin to be limited,
Difficulty leaning to any side and standing upright,
Stinging sensation in the toes and heel area,
Inability to hold urine or gas, bowel and bladder problems.

Here, especially the last symptom indicates that the disease has reached its final stage and urgent precautions must be taken. If necessary precautions are not taken, serious and permanent problems may arise that cannot be reversed.

What Causes Sciatica?

Although the main cause of sciatica is a herniated disc, it is also possible to develop sciatica due to different reasons. Compression in the waist area, compression of the sciatic nerve passing through the hip muscles, injury or strain in the feet or knee joints due to trauma can be shown as the most common causes of sciatic pain. Other common causes of sciatica in society include:

  • The weakening of muscles, bones or tissues around bones is usually due to changes in the spinal cord due to advancing age. This may cause the discs to herniate and result in bone spurs. All of these may pave the way for sciatica pain.
  • Obesity or being above the body's ideal weight increases the pressure accumulated on the spine. Spinal changes that occur with this pressure cause sciatica.
  • Traumatic situations such as accidents can cause sciatic nerve compression.
  • Driving for a long time means being exposed to vibration for a long time. This is one of the causes of sciatica.
  • Carrying heavy loads or sudden changes in direction of the back trigger sciatica.
  • Individuals who work sitting for long periods of time or have a sedentary lifestyle are likely to develop sciatica.
  • Damage to the nervous system may occur due to diabetes. The nerve damage in question can also occur in the sciatic nerve.
  • Weight gained during pregnancy can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Especially the growth of the breasts and abdominal area causes the body's center of gravity to change. This can increase the pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing nerve compression.

If people make lifestyle changes by taking the above reasons into consideration, the likelihood of experiencing sciatic nerve compression will decrease at the same rate.

How to Treat Sciatica?

As in almost all diseases, the patient's condition, the severity of the disease and the underlying cause of the pain are decisive in the treatment of sciatica. In cases where the disease is still in its early stages, painkillers or muscle relaxants can be used to relieve symptoms. If necessary, support can be obtained from anti-inflammatory drugs. In cases where the pain is a little more severe, epidural steroid injection helps relieve the pain. In addition to all these, some physical therapy practices are also effective in relieving symptoms.

However, if there is serious loss of strength in the legs and difficulty in controlling the intestines and bladder, the necessary treatment is surgery. If the aim is only to relieve the pressure on the nerve, lumbar laminectomy is performed. However, if there is a situation where the disc needs to be removed completely or partially, then the discectomy method is applied.

In addition to all these, some methods that patients can use to relieve sciatica pain are:

  • Exercising regularly,
  • Stretching exercises, yoga or pilates,
  • Fomentation,
  • Massage or acupuncture,
  • Moving occasionally in situations where one remains motionless for long periods of time,
  • Avoiding activities that may aggravate pain,
  • Avoiding heavy lifting.

These suggestions may help relieve sciatica pain, as well as prevent problems such as sciatic nerve compression. It is necessary to get advice from a doctor regarding both medication use and physical therapy practices. If surgery is required for the treatment of the disease, the success rate is extremely high in operations performed by a specialist and experienced surgeon.


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