What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a general term used to explain pain caused by sciatic nerve irritation. As the longest and widest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, down the legs, and ends just after the knee. This quintessential nerve controls multiple nerves in the lower legs and is responsible for sensation in the area. While there are a number of things that can irritate this nerve, the most common cause of the irritation is a compressed nerve root in the lower spine.
Types of Sciatica and Medical Treatments
The methods of treatment for sciatica will greatly depend on the affected area on the patient’s body as well as the classification of the sciatica. There are two different classifications of sciatica:
- Acute or short-term sciatica
- Chronic or long-term sciatica
Acute sciatica can last anywhere from four to six weeks, while chronic sciatica can persist significantly longer. Acute sciatica may be remedied with the use of hot and cold packs, over-the-counter painkillers, and exercises. In contrast, chronic sciatica commonly requires more intensive medical treatments, such as physical therapy, exercise, and applied heat. Patients with either acute or chronic sciatica may require surgery to be relieved of the symptoms.