Sciatica is a term used to describe pain caused by impingement or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body. It originates from the lumbosacral vertebrae and travels along the route through the hips, buttocks, down each leg, and foot. The impingement of the sciatic nerve causes pain or numbness in any part where it supplies. Some people may experience pain in one part and numbness in another. It also supplies the muscles of these areas and may also cause muscle weakness and difficulty in movement.
These are various types of sciatica explained by the best neurosurgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti:
1. Acute sciatica:
Acute sciatica has a sudden onset and the pain lasts for about 4-8 weeks. The intensity of pain is not severe and can be managed by self-treatment and gentle stretches at home. Usually, there is no need for medical treatment. But if ignored for a long period, acute sciatica may recur and may convert into chronic sciatic nerve pain.
2. Chronic sciatica:
This type of sciatica lasts for more than 8 weeks and the pain type is persistent. Chronic sciatica cannot be cured by self-medication and you need to seek medical help. According to the severity and nature of the pain, either surgical or non-surgical interventions are made. It depends upon the pain type and the patient’s health status.
3. Alternating sciatica:
Usually, sciatica involves only one leg but sometimes it may affect both legs alternatively. This may indicate a degenerative disorder in the sacroiliac joint (the joint that connects the spine to the hips) such as sacroiliac arthritis.
4. Bilateral sciatica:
Bilateral sciatica is rare and affects both legs simultaneously when there is an impingement of both ends of the sciatic nerve. It may be caused by some degenerative changes in the vertebral discs or the vertebra. The intensity of pain in both legs may be variable. It may also be caused by the Cauda equina syndrome.