sciatic nerve

If you?ve injured or pinched your sciatic nerve, you?ll know it by the pain that radiates from your lower back into your buttocks and down your legs. The sciatic nerve runs through this entire region of your body.

A herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) can all put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing a condition called sciatica. Compression of this nerve causes pain that can range from mild to severe. Sometimes, you might feel an almost electric jolt down your back and legs. The pain can get worse with sudden movements, like a sneeze or cough. Along with the pain, you might have symptoms like numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. Often, only one side of the body is affected.

To diagnose a problem with your sciatic nerve, your doctor might first ask you to perform several tasks, such as squatting or raising a straight leg. Imaging tests such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scan can show whether you have a herniated disk or other condition that can cause sciatica. The doctor may also do a test of nerve impulses, to see if there is any compression on the sciatic nerve. This test is called electromyography (EMG).

If you do have sciatica, your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to help manage the pain. Holding cold or heat to the area can also help make you feel more comfortable. Steroid injections help bring down inflammation around the sciatic nerve. Once your pain is under control, a physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen your back, improve flexibility, and prevent future injuries to the sciatic nerve. Surgery is an option if your pain doesn?t improve with other treatments, or you have more serious symptoms like a loss of control over your bladder or bowel movements.

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