A famous English singer and songwriter, Adele, says she suffers from sciatica, a common condition developed by 40% of Americans sometime during their life.
"I have a wobble these days because I have really bad sciatica," Adele revealed during her show in Las Vegas last weekend.
Sciatica, or lumbar radiculopathy, refers to pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg.
The pain is caused by injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. Most often, it occurs when a herniated disk or an overgrowth of bone puts pressure on the part of the nerve.
Sciatica can occur almost anywhere along the nerve pathway and usually affects one side of the body at a time. The pain varies from a mild ache to a sharp, burning pain, sometimes resembling a jolt or electric shock.
Forced and sudden body movements, such as coughing and sneezing, makes sciatica worse. The pain can intensify after sitting or standing for long periods.
The symptoms of sciatica may also include numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the leg or foot, and the loss of bowel and bladder control.
The risk factors for developing sciatica are:
- Having an injury or being injured before
- Being overweight
- Lacking a strong core and proper posture
- Doing a physical job
- Having diabetes or osteoarthritis
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
There are several ways to diagnose sciatica. Firstly, the healthcare provider will review the patient's medical history and perform a physical exam.
Depending on the results, other tests may be done, such as spinal X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scan, nerve conduction velocity studies, or myelogram.
Sciatica typically heals on its own, but the symptoms can be managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen.
Applying heat or cold to the sore muscles, movement, and osteopathic manipulation may also relieve the pain. If the condition persists, surgery to repair the herniated disk can be performed.