By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Do you feel pain in your lower back, hips, buttock, that travels down to the leg? If you experience this, this problem may occur because of pressure on the nerve, called sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body, which runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down legs to the tips of the toes.
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes, it can feel like a jolt or electric shock, and it worsens when you cough or sneeze. Usually, sciatica affects only 1 leg (left or right) but in some cases, both legs can be affected. Other symptoms that you might feel are weakness, numbness, pins and needle sensation, tingling, pain that worsens with movement, even loss of bowel and bladder control.
The most common cause of sciatica is slipped disc. But it can also occur due to lumbar spinal stenosis, tumours or infection within the spine.
The following factors can put you at risk of sciatica:
- Old age
- Having weak core muscles
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
- Having improper posture
- Having a physically demanding job
This video demonstrates some exercises you can do at home to relieve the pain caused by sciatic.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.