Sciatica is defined as pain affecting the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body that begins at the lower back, runs through the hips and buttocks, and further branches down to each leg and foot. It typically affects just one side of the lower body. Depending on the cause, sciatica treatment in Singapore ranges from medications to surgery.
Sciatica occurs when there is an irritation, injury or compression of the sciatic nerve. The most common cause is a herniated disc , in which the spinal disc’s jelly-like core pushes against a weakness in the disc’s outer ring. This bulging can pinch part of the sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness in the lower part of the body.
Other causes include:
The main symptom of sciatica is pain that travels through the pathway of the sciatic nerve. The intensity of the
pain can vary, ranging from a mild ache to debilitating pain. Many describe the experience as a stabbing pain,
electric jolt or burning sensation that worsens when coughing, sneezing and sitting for a prolonged period.
Other symptoms include numbness, weakness and a tingling sensation in the lower limbs. For severe cases, pain may be accompanied by fever, inflammation in the spine, urinary and faecal incontinence, and so on. All of these should be immediately attended to by a medical professional or orthopaedic surgeon .
Some of the things that can increase one’s risk of sciatica include:
Sciatica can be diagnosed through a physical exam, in which the orthopaedic surgeon checks the patient’s muscle strength and reflexes. This may involve asking the patient to perform certain actions such as walking on their toes and heels, lifting each leg while lying on the back, standing from a squat position, and more.
If pain is severe and has not subsided after a few weeks, the doctor may require imaging tests such as:
Conservative treatments like sufficient rest, activity and using safe lifting techniques can help mild cases of sciatica. For more serious cases, an orthopaedic surgeon may prescribe the following:
Sciatica is a treatable condition, particularly if help is sought early. Dr Chua Soo Yong is an orthopaedic and spine specialist at Atlas Orthopaedic Group, specialising in the management of back pain, including sciatica, herniated discs and more. For enquiries, please call 6262 0555.