Neurological Disorders: Sciatic Neuropathy

What is this condition?

Sciatic neuropathy is a neurological disorder and results from damage to sciatic nerve. When this nerve is damaged it can manifest with nerve pain, numbness, loss of sensation, muscle weakness etc. This is a relatively common condition.

Anatomical aspects

No other nerve in the body is as long or as wide as this nerve. It arises from the lumbosacral plexus and descends downwards through the hip and leg. Majority of he muscles and sensation (sensory function) in the leg are supplied by this nerve.

This nerve is actually made of two nerve trunks that travel together adjacent to each other. These trunks are called as common peroneal and tibial nerves and they fully separate at the knee region and then travel independently with their own routes and supply.

What predisposes to the damage of this nerve?

• Intramuscular injection
• Traumas
• Growths like tumors, cysts, lipoma etc
• Pyriformis syndrome
• Prolonged surgical positioning etc.

Pyriformis syndrome happens when the nerve gets compressed while passing through it.

How does patient present?

• Leg weakness
• Muscle thinning or atrophy
• Tingling sensation (pins and needles)
• Numb feeling
• Difficulty with waling etc.

Patients typically present with a characteristic pattern of pain, numbness, tingling sensation in different combination called as sciatica. Not all symptoms are present in each and every patient but pain is usually the most consistent and prominent symptom.

Sciatica term is used for radiating pain that shoots down from the lower back or hip region down to the leg. It is not necessarily caused by sciatic nerve damage because lower lumbar and sacral radiculopathy (pinched spinal nerve roots) can also produce similar symptoms in the same distribution.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is initially made clinically and some patients may require investigations to confirm this diagnosis and tests like EMG/Nerve conduction test, MRN (Magnetic resonance neurography), MRI etc may be necessary to finalize the diagnosis.

Treatment

The treatment of this condition includes symptomatic treatments to control the pain with nerve-pain pills like gabapentin, amitriptyline, pregabalin etc, and some patients may require more aggressive treatments like surgical decompression of the sciatic nerve and other measures.

This condition is commonly managed by a neurologist.

Sciatic Neuropathy to Neurology Articles

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