Common Conditions That Cause Sciatica
Conditions that are known to cause sciatica include:
The compression of the L4 spinal nerve root causes sciatica. A herniated disc or spinal stenosis contributes to this. You may also get pain in your thigh and calf.
These are the muscles at the back of the thigh. When muscles are tight, back stability is reduced. Therefore, the curvature is altered. This increases back stress and causes sciatica. Pain can then radiate to the knee.
A herniated lumbar disc causes L3 nerve compression. This part of the spine is in the lower back. This can cause pain in the knee as well as weakness. Pain can also be felt in the groin, hip, and thigh.
Patellofemoral stress syndrome:
This is a condition where the kneecap rubs the thigh bone. This is also known as runners knee. You will feel a burning sensation at the edge of the kneecap. The pain will not be felt elsewhere in the leg. But, it is often mistaken for sciatica pain.
How A Pinched Nerve Can Cause Unexplained Abdominal Pain
The nervous system is one of the most complex parts of the human body. It is an organ system that contains a network of specialised cells called neurones, which connect the brain to various parts of the body.
The nervous system is responsible for several critical tasks including the coordination of movement, transmission of sensory information, reflexes, and the regulation the bodys internal environment.
The wide range of tasks performed by the nervous system means that any medical conditions affecting the nerves can cause unexpected or unusual symptoms like abdominal pain.
In this post, our London chiropractor explains what a pinched nerve is, how it can cause abdominal pain, and how visiting a London chiropractor for chiropractic care may help.
Posterior Knee Pain: Meniscus Tear
It is likely that either you or someone you know has had a meniscus tear.
Approximately one million meniscus surgeries are performed each hear.
Your meniscus is a shock absorbing structure with two parts on the inside and outside of your knee joint. Your meniscus is a specific type of tissue designed to withstand compressive and shear forces. When too much force or torque is present in a weight bearing movement the meniscus will tear. This can present as a pop, click, or snap and results in swelling, decreased range of motion, and pain in the knee.
The most common symptom is knee stiffness and pain during prolonged sitting and painful movement with squatting and stairs.
Since your meniscus wraps from the front of your knee to the back of your knee it can be a very common cause of back of the knee pain. Physical therapy which focuses on lower extremity alignment, hip strengthening, and manual therapy to restore range of motion can help alleviate the symptoms of a meniscus tear. Surgery is a very common treatment for meniscus tears given that the the majority of the meniscus is avascular and therefore will not heal by natural processes.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica
The symptoms of sciatica include:
- Moderate to severe pain in lower back, buttock and down your leg.
- Numbness or weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg or feet.
- Pain that worsens with movement loss of movement.
- Pins and needles feeling in your legs, toes or feet.
- Loss of bowel and bladder control .
Can Sciatica Pain Cause Knee Pain
If you have ever suffered from knee pain, you know how debilitating it can be. Knee pain can limit your movement, distract from work-life, and disrupt sleep.
Pain in the knees is a very common symptom, and can be caused by a range of medical problems. It is sometimes attributed to Sciatica, a condition regarding nerves in the lower back.
But what do nerves in your back have to do with your knees? And how related are these two seemingly separate problems?
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Sciatica And The Sciatic Nerve
Symptoms of sciatica manifest when the large sciatic nerve is compressed in the lumbar spine or becomes irritated for some reason.
Your sciatic nerve is the biggest single nerve in your body and is made up of individual roots of nerves that branch out from your spine in your lower back and then come together to form your sciatic nerve.
Following are a few important points that you should know about the sciatic nerve:
- Your sciatic nerve begins in your lower back at the lumbar segment #3, referred to as L3.
- At each level of your lower spine, a nerve root comes out from inside of your spine, and each of these comes together to create what we know as the large sciatic nerve.
- Once formed from the combination of all the other nerves, your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, through your buttocks, and then down the back of each one of your legs.
- Then, once in your legs, portions of this large nerve branch out to various parts of your leg: calves, thighs, toes, and feet.
The specific symptoms of sciatica numbness, leg pain, weakness, and even symptoms that radiate into your foot- are dependent upon what portion of the sciatic nerve is irritated or pinched.
For example, if it is pinched or irritated along lumbar segment #5, or L5, you may notice that you have weakness in extending your big toe and possibly your ankle.
How Does Sciatica Of The Knee Happen
Knee sciatica can have several causes. Prolapsed discs are common culprits for sciatica in the knee. There is a possibility that the material that makes up the vertebral disc can leak out, resulting in pain that can extend down as far as the knee.
Infection, bone disease, spinal stenosis, malignancy, and trauma are just some of the additional causes of sciatica.
Sciatica is characterized by body pain originating in the lumbar spine and spreading to areas along the sciatic nerve path, such as the knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may also experience pain in your buttocks, back of your thigh, calves, and feet.
It is essential to consult a professional as soon as you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica of the knee. Several tests might be necessary, including X-rays and MRIs or CT scans.
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How Is A Pinched Nerve In The Knee Diagnosed
Your doctor will take your medical history and perform an exam to try to make a diagnosis and determine the cause.
The nerve in your knee can be felt as it travels around the top of your tibia, so your doctor may tap on it. If you feel a shooting pain down your leg, you probably have a pinched peroneal nerve.
Tests your doctor may order include:
- Knee X-ray: shows any bone fractures or masses
- Knee MRI: can confirm the diagnosis and show masses within the nerve and details of fractures of other problems in your bones
- Electromyogram : tests electrical activity in your muscles
- Nerve conduction test: tests the speed of signals in the nerve
The problem or activity thats causing the pinched nerve should be treated or corrected first.
Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and improving mobility.
Over-the-counter pain medication
Any medication that reduces inflammation can improve your symptoms, such as anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen.
Heat or ice
Applying either heat or ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time can give some relief from the symptoms.
If youve lost sensation, you have to be careful you dont get frostbite or a burn on your skin. An ice pack can make your symptoms worse if it puts too much pressure on the nerve.
A corticosteroid injection can reduce the inflammation, which reduces the pressure on your nerve.
Accurate Diagnosis Is Key
If your physician examines your hip joint and notes no hip pain, and then examines your back and notes leg pain, the spine is usually the source of the problem. Some people may have localized hip pain without leg pain, but are found to have a normal hip and an abnormal spine. Others may have only leg pain, but are found to have an abnormal hip and a normal spine. Therefore, in addition to a good physical examination, imaging is important. Plain X-rays may be helpful, but sometimes an MRI is needed as well. If imaging does not determine the source of the pain, the next step would typically be to perform an injection of pain-relieving medication directly into the area suspected of causing pain. Whether you get pain relief from the injection can help your physician better understand where the pain is coming from.
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Back Of Knee Pain: Bakers Cyst
If you have had a recent injury, or chronic knee pain, and you feel there is a ball behind your knee you may have a Bakers cyst.
A Bakers cyst is a fluid filled pouch that forms at the back of the knee secondary to injury to the knee joint or soft tissue. The increase in fluid produced by the knee will create the cyst which takes up space behind the knee and limits your ability to bend the knee, squat, and stand.
A Bakers cyst is commonly treated with conservative measures such as icing, wrapping, and physical therapy to help improve range of motion and function. Occasionally, the fluid in the back of the need can be drained by aspiration although it is common for the fluid to return due to the underlying pathology at the knee causing the swelling in the first place.
What Complications Are Associated With Sciatica
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a drop foot, might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
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Visiting Our London Chiropractors At Motionback
Chiropractic is a primary healthcare profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are due to problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves, especially related to the spine.
Chiropractic Treatment involves a wide variety of manipulative techniques designed to improve the function of the joints, relieving pain and muscle spasm. Other methods of treatment such as mobilisation, soft tissue therapies, stretches, dry needling and the use of rehabilitation programmes may also be used.
Chiropractic focuses on causes, not just symptoms. It is therefore suitable for both acute and chronic conditions.
Our Chiropractors are trained to take and interpret x-rays and as primary health care professionals are qualified to assess your general health.
To book and appointment with one of our chiropractors, please call us on 0207 112 5408 or you can book online on our website
How Long Should I Try Self
Every person with sciatic pain is different. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different. In some patients, a more aggressive treatment may be tried first. However, generally speaking, if a six-week trial of conservative, self-care treatments like ice, heat, stretching, over-the-counter medicines has not provided relief, its time to return to a healthcare professional and try other treatment options.
Other treatment options include:
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Referred Pain From Sciatica
Sciatica is pain, numbness, or tingling like pins and needles that originates in the low back, and may affect the buttocks, hips, upper legs, knees, and even the feet. Sciatica is a common cause of referred pain to the knee from the back. You wont typically experience pain in both knees at once, but it is possible.
Common symptoms of sciatica that is referred to the knee:
- Sharp pain in and around the knee
- Dull ache around the knee
- Weakness when trying to extend the knee
- The burning sensation or warmth around the knee
- Buckling of the knee when walking
Besides your knee, you might experience similar symptoms in the buttocks, thigh, calf, or even all the way into the foot.
During Your Exam Your Doctor Will:
- Look at your posture and range of motion
- Note any movement that causes pain
- Examine the curvature and alignment of your spine
- Feel for muscle spasm
- Check your sensation
- Test your reflexes and muscle strength
Your doctor may order a plain x-ray, CT scan or MRI. The CT scan or MRI provides the doctor with many snapshots of your spine, and can help confirm a suspected diagnosis. The findings of an imaging test are compared to the information the doctor gathers during the taking of your medical history, and physical and neurological examination results. An accurate diagnosis is one of the first steps in determining the best treatment options.
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How To Tell The Difference
If you have leg pain without significant back pain, it can be hard to tell if the problem is your back or your hip. Vinita Mathew, MD, FAAPMR, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Northwestern Medicine Integrated Spine Center. Here, Dr. Mathew explains what to look for and what to expect if you see your physician for leg pain.
What Can I Expect If I Have Been Diagnosed With Sciatica
The good news about sciatic pain is that it usually goes away on its own with time and some self-care treatments. Most people with sciatica get better without surgery, and about half of these recover from an episode fully within six weeks.
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if your sciatica pain is not improving and you have concerns that you arent recovering as quickly as hoped.
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Using Alternate Heat And Ice Treatments
Although hot and cold are opposites, they provide comfort. In the case of a recent injury, cold treatment is usually best.
You can also use an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a heating pad for about 15-20 minutes at a time to help you relax. Make sure your skin doesnt get burned.
It is possible to reduce sciatic nerve pain by alternating heat and ice therapy. Inflammation can be reduced by ice, while heat promotes blood flow to the painful area .
Sciatica is often accompanied by painful muscle spasms that can be alleviated by heat and ice. For 15 minutes every hour, apply an ice pack to the painful area, and then every 2-3 hours, apply heat to the area.
It is important to always protect your skin with a barrier when using heat or ice, and you should never sleep while using either.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Pinched Nerve In The Knee
The peroneal nerve supplies both sensation and movement to the outside of your lower leg and the top of your foot. When its compressed, it becomes inflamed, which causes the symptoms of a pinched nerve.
Usually only the lining, or myelin, around the nerve is injured. When the nerve itself is also damaged, the symptoms are the same but more severe.
Your ability to turn your foot outward and extend your big toe are also affected.
Other symptoms of a pinched peroneal nerve are felt on the outside of your lower leg and on the top of your foot. These include:
- loss of sensation
If youve had a pinched nerve for two or more weeks, the muscles supplied by the nerve can begin to waste away.
Your symptoms may be intermittent or continuous depending on whats pushing on the nerve.
The other common cause of these symptoms is a pinched nerve in your lumbar spine. When this is the cause, youll also have pain in your lower back or the back and outside of your thigh.
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Leg Pain From Hip Disorders
When the hip is affected, you may have groin pain on the affected side, reduced range of motion of the hip, thigh pain, knee pain, or buttocks pain. The pain usually does not go down below the knee, and there is no associated numbness or tingling. You may feel more pain when walking or standing, and the pain improves with rest. You may sense a limited range of motion when trying to get out of the car, chair or bed. Occasionally, pain in the hip could be secondary to inflammation of a hip bursa. This can happen if you have tight hip abductor muscles, difference in leg length or hip arthritis. Hip pain can also be caused by something more serious but less common, like fractures, tumors, infection or avascular necrosis.
How Can I Know If I Have Sciatica
Sciatica is linked to certain conditions including pregnancy, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and herniated or bulging discs. Doctors who suspect their patients have sciatica may ask their patients to perform some exercises or undergo x-rays and similar tests.
Physicians will also ask questions several questions including:
- Where do you feel discomfort?
- What is the pain like?
- How often are you uncomfortable?
- How long does the pain last?
- What triggers the discomfort and what helps it go away?
- Do you sit for a long period of time?
- Do you do any lifting or strenuous physical activities for your job?
- Do you have an active lifestyle?
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