Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

What's Sciatica?

You've stepped off the stairclimber after a 30-minute workout, and suddenly a sharp pain shoots down your right leg. Your whole leg feels weak and numb, and you start hopping on your left foot, like a marionette that's had the strings to one leg cut off.

You may have just experienced an attack of sciatica.

Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve cord, which branches off the spinal cord in your lower back, runs beneath your buttock muscles and continues all the way down your leg.

This large bundle of nerves, almost three quarters of an inch wide, supplies sensation and motor control to your buttocks, hips and legs. Pain can originate in your lower back and travel down to your buttocks, thighs or lower legs, or it can flare up anywhere along the length of the nerve.

Sciatica can lead to muscle weakness - and it can cause you to lose your reflexes in your knee or ankle; yet this loss of reflex is difficult to detect unless a doctor checks for it.

The Disc Connection

One common cause of sciatica is a damaged, or herniated, disc in the spinal column that pinches a nerve at the root of the sciatic cord. These discs sit like cushioning jelly doughnuts between your vertebrae, the bones that make up your spinal column.

In our teens or early 20s, these discs begin to dry up and degenerate, so it's not uncommon to develop sciatica in your 20s, 30s or 40s. You can also damage a disc by falling or lifting something the wrong way.

The sciatic nerves branch out from your spinal column between three different vertebrae before converging into a cord. The part of the nerve root that is irritated by the damaged disc determines the area where you'll feel pain or develop numbness and weakness. Anything that puts pressure inside your abdomen, such as coughing, sneezing or lifting, may make the pain worse.

How can your physician tell which disc is injured?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2000 - Sports Doctor, Inc.