Sciatica is a term used to describe pain caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain or numbness along the pathway of the sciatic nerve. The most common cause of sciatica is disc herniation in the lumbar spine, causing pinching and inflammation of the nerve. It may also be caused by spinal stenosis, bone spurs, facet arthritis, or any injury or trauma. This irritation can cause pain and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, or legs. Usually, it affects only one leg but can occur in both as well.
Sciatic pain usually lasts a few weeks depending on the underlying cause. Acute sciatica commonly resolves within 3-4 weeks. But if left untreated acute sciatica can convert into chronic and it may last for a long time. The pain experienced in the acute stage is sharp and stabbing while in the chronic stage it is less severe. The duration may last longer depending on the intensity and the level of injury. It also depends upon the time of diagnosis and early treatment. The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the lesser will be the symptoms and impairment. Hence the greater and more effective will be the results.
Some people confuse it with usual low back pain if it is only localized there, resulting in delayed recovery and mismanagement. The pain may be present in only one part or all along the pathway. Pain and numbness may be felt together, or in some cases, pain is felt in one area and numbness in the other. If the symptoms last for a long time, it is advised to seek medical help as soon as possible. In severe cases, there may be loss of bowel or bladder control, it is considered a medical emergency, and professional help is given to prevent any further loss or damage.