Sciatica, Radiating Down from Hip to Leg
Updated: Apr 26, 2018
A man in his early thirty’s was limping as he came into the clinic recently. He enjoyed working out so he would spend his night at the health center after work; however, he started to have sharp pain from his hip down to the leg recently. He got diagnosed with early stage of herniated disc disorder, and the symptoms were quickly alleviated thanks to early acupuncture treatment and herbal therapy.
Sciatica refers to sharp or tingling pain from the hip down to the legs. The term ‘sciatica’ is not a name of a disease but rather one aspect of pain, and it frequently shows as an early symptom for spine disease. The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve fascicle that distributes from the back of the hip, through the upper thigh, and down to the end of the foot. Sciatica is triggered when the sciatic nerve gets compressed and induces
inflammation, and an extreme tight and bursting pain radiates first at the hip and down to the leg and knee. Root cause includes herniated lumbar disc disorder, degenerative disc disorder, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, and more.
For twenty’s and thirty’s age groups, any problem on the deep muscle layer in the hip called piriformis muscle can trigger pain in the hip and leg. Piriformis muscle is located in between the tailbone and femur, and the sciatic nerve runs below this muscle. Tension or unusual largeness of piriformis muscle can compress the sciatic nerve, thus triggering backache, tingling of leg, and hip pain. If you sit with your legs crossed, sit for a long period of time, or the sciatic pain worsens when climbing up the stairs, then you can suspect piriformis syndrome due to stiffness of the hip muscle and imbalance of hip joint. However, the problem may not be the muscle but rather sciatic triggered by spinal disorder. The most representative ones are lumbar disc disorder, stenosis, and degenerative lumbar disc disorder. The spinal canal becomes narrow as the lumbar bone thickens, which compresses on the nerve and triggers pain.
If sciatica is triggered by herniated lumbar disc, then pain worsens when you bend your hip forward or stretch side to side, and pain follows along the nerve and triggers pain outside of the leg. For sciatica caused by stenosis, walking for long time is difficult, there is repetition of resting or squatting in between walks, and bending slightly forward is comfortable. MRI examination to find and understand the cause of sciatica is important. This is because neglection of herniated disc or stenosis can progress rapidly to worse condition, such as leg paralysis and other symptoms.
Sciatica is common in those with life habits of working while sitting for long time or crossing their legs. It is also common to those who carry heavy objects, have damaged their hip and piriformis muscle simultaneously, have had direct injury of the hip, workout excessively, and even in pregnant woman with sudden increase of weight, and herniated lumbar disc patients. Sciatica can trigger muscle weakening, muscle tightness, and leg numbness or tingling; therefore, meticulous observation is necessary.
Prevention of sciatica requires waist muscle strengthening and keeping the hip muscle from receiving compression. Relieve muscle tension by stretching or massaging. Avoid habits of crossing the legs, sitting with crossed legs, or even placing the wallet on one side of the pants. Make sure to stand up and stretch every one or two hours if work requires long period of sitting, and work on sitting upright to avoid twisting the pelvis or hip.
A simple stretching exercise you can do anywhere is the following: rest the affected side of leg over the opposite leg to create a number ‘4’ shape, link your hands behind the opposite thigh and slowly pull towards the chest to stretch the piriformis muscle. But stretching is only a way to relieve muscle tension, and it is not a treatment.
If there is pain but no appropriate treatment was received, then the leg will lose sensation and the muscle will weaken to the point of atrophy. There is high chance of full recovery if you take sufficient rest in early occurrence, have consultation and examination with a specialist, and receive appropriate treatment. Symptoms of sciatica are complex; therefore, acupuncture treatment, which relaxes muscle and communicates with the meridian, and herbal therapy, which relieves inflammation and strengthens bones, muscle and ligaments, along with chiropractic treatment that maintains balance are effective treatments.
Photo Credit(s): Terazine Blog health24
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