Sciatica is a common neuralgic condition in Brisbane, identified as a referred nerve pain arising from the sciatic nerve. It is a long nerve formed by the multiple nerve roots passing through the vertebral disc spaces merging into a single nerve. The nerve makes its way out from the spine through the gluteal region to the back of the thigh and leg. The condition is generally managed in Brisbane primary care, and only a few cases call for referral to a secondary care. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to alleviate the symptoms.
Major Risk factors
- Age: 45-65 years
- Smoking is the major factor prevalent in Brisbane.
- Stress: Mental and physical; such as strenuous physical activities like frequent heavy lifting, twisting and bending.
- The risk is increased with height and overweight and obesity.
- Driving long routes, causing vibration of the whole body.
Causes of sciatica
- Lumbar disc herniation: The prolapsus or slip of the intervertebral disc causes it to bulge, thus exerting pressure on the nerve, irritating it and causing the pain. The usual conditions associated with it are –
- Lumbar subluxation: Malpositioned joint.
- Degenerative diseases of the disc: in the elderly, where the disc erodes with age, the condition is the commonest.
- Osteoarthritis: Narrowing of the disc spaces presses the nerve thus causing the referred pain to occur. Vitamin D deficiency is the leading cause of osteoarthritis, and it’s helpful to learn how to diagnose and treat Vitamin D deficiency.
- Age-related destruction: Ageing increases the risk of developing sciatic pain. As the discs between the most susceptible lumbar vertebrae (a set of 5 relatively large vertebrae located at the lower back) progressively lose their cushioning, it leads to a variety of lower back problems, sciatica being the commonest.
- Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal cord passage also triggers pain similar to sciatica.
- Pyriformis Syndrome: In about 15% of the population, sciatica nerve passes through Pyriformis, a muscle in the back. This implies that the inflammation or tightness of this muscle would lead to the appearance of sciatica-like symptoms.
- 1. Pain: Mild to moderate discomfort with shooting nerve pain radiating quickly down the leg along the course of the sciatic nerve is characteristic of this condition. The pain travels down the back of the thigh, past the knee and towards the ankle. The pain often occurs more frequently during sitting, sneezing or coughing or straining at stool.
- Abnormal sensations: Along with the typical pain, the patients may experience tingling, numbness and muscle weakness.
- Loss of muscle control: In extreme and untreated cases, loss of bladder control or extended severity of pain may be experienced.
The prognosis is generally favourable, and the pain subsides along with the associated symptoms within two weeks with mild painkillers available in Brisbane. However, a small proportion of patients continue to suffer from the pain for a year or longer.