Sciatica is a term used to describe pain caused by irritation or impingement of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is believed to be the longest nerve in the human body. In the lumbar spine, it may be compressed due to disc herniation or spinal stenosis, resulting in affecting the areas where it supplies. It runs through the buttocks, hips, legs, and feet. The nerve damage can cause pain and discomfort in the affected areas, as well as sensory impairment. This condition is experienced by over 40% of the population worldwide.
If left untreated, it may cause several serious complications as follows:
1.Irreparable nerve damage:
Permanent nerve damage can cause serious complications, the sensory or motor loss may occur. The nerve damage can increase the intensity of pain. The pain may become unbearable and the intake of medications will be increased. Eventually, there will be a time, when the medication stops responding resulting in the worst conditions. As the sensory system of diabetic patients is already compromised, they are at great risk for this.
2. Loss of motor and sensory control:
When the condition becomes worse, the patient may suffer a sensory and motor loss in the affected areas. You may feel a constant numbness and tingling because the nerve is being damaged continuously. It may also cause muscle weakness and difficulty in movement in the areas that are supplied by it.
Prolonged damage gradually decreases and then diminishes the sensations causing irreparable nerve dysfunction that can result in the amputation.
3. Bowel and bladder incontinence:
In extreme cases, it may also affect the control of bowel and bladder movements. It may be a temporary loss but can become permanent if left untreated for long period. The nerves become completely compromised and the damage is irreversible.
4. Cauda Equina syndrome:
It can be caused by damage to the nerve root bundle present at the lower end of the spinal cord. This condition is characterized by extreme low back pain. Sensory impairment and incontinence may also occur. Cauda Equina syndrome may also cause permanent paralysis.
These are some of the complications explained by brain tumor surgeon Dr.Kalyan Bommakanti, M.Ch.