The spine is built up of individual bones (vertebra) and cartilage (intervertebral discs). The discs act as a shock absorber, have a soft, spongy centre and are located between each vertebra. If the discs burst or slip, they may put pressure on the spinal nerve roots and this can cause pain. Sciatica is commonly the result of a slipped disc and refers to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels from the base of the spine to the extremity of the lower leg & foot through various nerve pathways. Sciatic pain generally starts from the lower back and may extend into the buttock, thigh or calf.
Causes: Activities that involve repetitive bending forward and lifting heavy objects such as weightlifting can increase the pressure within the discs of the spine. This extra pressure can cause the disc to burst, and the fluid contents can then spread to nearby nerves. This may result in nerve irritation and may put extra pressure on the nerves and in turn, contribute to Sciatica. Slipped discs normally occur in the lower back, but you can slip a disc anywhere throughout the spine.
Symptoms: A combination of back pain, shooting pain down your legs, pins and needles and numbness. It may affect one or both legs and the disc will be out of place.
Risks and complications: Damage to the spinal cord may lead to weakness in the legs and loss of control of bowel and bladder function. Arthritis of the spine due to the increased pressure on the vertebrae may occur.
Management: Physiotherapy will help relieve the pain and associated symptoms and onward referral to a specialist maybe necessary for a possible MRI scan or further intervention.
Please feel free to contact the Manchester G4 Clinic to speak to a member of the team for any questions that you may have.