Sciatic Nerve: Symptoms, Anatomy, Function and Therapy

The largest nerve in the human body is the sciatic nerve.

It is located on each side of the lower spine and goes down through the buttocks at the back of the thigh and runs all the way to the foot.

It connects the spinal cord with the muscles of the legs and feet.

The pain or any neurological symptoms that are registered along the sciatic nerve is commonly known as sciatica, whose medical term is lumbar radiculopathy, which indicates that the symptoms originate with a radicular nerve in the spine.

Symptoms of sciatic nerve injury

The signs of the existence of an injury are: pain that radiates towards the back of the thigh and the calf, and can extend to the foot.

Numbness, tingling and / or burning or itching may also occur, which are also common symptoms of sciatica.

Any problem that occurs in the lower part of the spine can affect one of the nerves that is injected into the sciatic nerve, causing the pain to radiate along that section of the nerve.

The most common form of pain in the legs of the sciatic nerve is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • It occurs on only one leg, not both.
  • It starts in the lower back or buttock and radiates towards the back of the thigh, usually in the lower part of the leg and / or the foot.

It is experienced, usually as a sharp pain, it can be described as a burning, burning, sharp or electric pain.

It usually increases when you are standing or sitting for a long time, there is more relief when you are lying down or walking.

Due to different nerve pathways, symptoms may occur in different parts of the leg or foot, depending on where the nerve is affected

Anatomy

The sciatic nerve originates in the lower part of the spinal column in the lumbosacral plexus. From there it emerges from the pelvis and enters the gluteal region through the greater sciatic foramen. It comes out and arrives at the piriformis muscle descending in an inferolateral direction.

When the nerve moves through the gluteal region, it crosses the posterior surface of the superior twin, the internal obturator, the inferior twin, and the femoral square muscle.

Then enter the posterior thigh through the long head of the femoral biceps.

Within the posterior thigh, the nerve gives rise to branches of the hamstring and major adductor muscles.

When the sciatic nerve reaches the top of the popliteal fossa, it ends up bifurcating into the common tibial and peroneal nerves, which innervate different parts of the lower leg:

Function

    1. Motor functions

Although the sciatic nerve passes through the gluteal region, it does not transmit any nervous stimulus to the muscles that are there.

However, the sciatic nerve directly supplies the muscles in the posterior compartment of the thigh and the hamstring portion.

The sciatic nerve, after traveling through the back of each leg, branches out to provide sensory and motor functions to specific regions of the leg and foot.

The sciatic nerve transmits nervous stimuli, through its two terminal branches, the tibial and peroneal nerve:

  • Tibial nerve to the muscles of the hind leg or calf muscles and some of the intrinsic muscles in the heel and sole of the foot.
  • Peroneal nerve common to the muscles of the lateral leg, the anterior leg, and the intrinsic muscles of the upper part of the foot.

In total, the sciatic nerve transmits stimuli to the muscles of the posterior thigh, the entire leg and the entire foot.

    2. Sensory functions

The sciatic nerve has no direct sensory function. Provides indirect sensory innervation through its terminal branches:

  • Tibial nerve: It transmits stimuli to the anterolateral and posterolateral sides of the leg and the plantar surface of the foot.
  • Peroneal nerve common: It transmits stimuli to the lateral leg and the dorsal surface of the foot.

The sciatic nerve connects the spinal cord with the hamstring muscles located on the back of the thighs, the outer part of the thigh, and the muscles of the lower area on the leg and foot.

When the sciatic nerve is excited, it can cause muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg, in the ankle, in the foot, in the fingers.

Therapy

Some specialists, faced with the appearance of pain symptoms attributed to lesions in the sciatic nerve, choose to use medications such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory or steroids and even surgery.

But studies have reported other treatment options, such as physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments and stretching, including yoga, acupuncture and massage therapy can radically improve a person’s condition.

This type of treatment is associated with very little risk of negative side effects, they do not damage the anatomy of the nerve.

It also has many other advantages such as reduced stress levels, better range of motion, protection against injuries and even as a preventive treatment.