Each disc in the spine is designed to provide cushioning and support. The disc can degenerate because of age or injury. This can cause the inner section to rupture or protrude from the outer layer and is known as the herniation of the disc. The lower back is the common site of most herniated discs. This is because the area is always absorbing the impact of bearing the weight of the upper body. The lower back is a important part of every day movements and this constant strain in combination with natural or inflicted degeneration makes it more susceptible to a herniated disc.
Sciatica is a condition which causes pain in the lower extremities because the sciatic nerve is irritated. It is usually felt in the lower back and runs down behind the thigh and can progress to the knee. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the human body and when it is irritated it can cause severe discomfort. The condition can be caused by a herniated disc which is putting pressure on the nerve, this is the most common. The pain can also be caused by irritation caused by a nearby bone, tumor, or muscle in addition to infections in or around the lumbar spine. Injuries can also cause sciatica.
Depending on how severe the condition is, treatment for a herniated disc can include physical therapy and pain management. The doctor frequently uses muscle relaxants, pain medications, and anti-inflammatory medicines to treat moderate pain. When the pain or condition is more severe, cortisone injections and surgery can be used. For sciatica caused by a herniated disc the same types of steps will be taken. Otherwise the sciatica can be treated with self-care techniques involving stretching and strengthening the muscles in addition to employing antidepressant medications. These drugs can help by reducing the pain perception in the brain.