Sciatica refers to pain that is felt along the course of the sciatic nerve. It can vary from a mild ache to a sharp burning pain that is felt in the lower back (lumbar area) and buttocks, down the back of the leg, and the foot, usually affecting one side of the body. Some people may also experience tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.
Sciatica is most often due to a herniated disc or degenerated intervertebral disc, growth of a bone spur on the spine, or lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), causing nerve compression. People who are elderly, obese, or diabetic have an increased risk of sciatic pain. A sedentary lifestyle, an occupation that involves prolonged sitting, or one that involves lifting heavy loads are also more prone to experiencing sciatica. While mild sciatic pain may resolve over time, it can potentially cause nerve damage, which then leads to weakness and loss of sensations in the affected leg, in addition to the loss of bowel and bladder control, in severe cases.
Interventions usually involve controlling the pain, physiotherapy, exercising regularly, and maintaining good posture, while severe cases may require surgery.
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