Sciatica is the pain affecting the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back down both legs. Common symptoms include:
Sciatica usually causes pain on one side of the body, but extends from the lower back to the bottom of the leg. Some of the frequent causes of sciatic pain include lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and pregnancy.
Herniated discs are another major cause of lower back pain, but can occur anywhere in the spine. A herniated disc results when the outer layer of a spinal disc is damaged causing the internal gel to bulge or leak out of the disc, it then presses on a nerve root, causing pain. General wear and tear on the spine or an injury can cause this condition. A herniated disc can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the parts of the body where the nerve reaches. This can also affect the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.
Doctors will employ a variety of procedures and techniques to ease sciatica and lower back pain. Typically, they will begin with a conservative approach to pain management, suggesting over the counter pain killers. If over the counter medications do not work, the doctor will prescribe muscle relaxers, stronger pain medications, and in some instances of chronic back pain, antidepressants may be prescribed. The doctor could advise chiropractic therapy to ensure correct alignment and body function. Regular exercise can reduce pain and may also prevent the pain from returning. In extreme cases, the doctor may suggest surgery to repair any damaged discs or vertebrae that are causing the pain.