Medical Media Images

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What is Sciatica? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images

Sciatica means "Spinal Nerve Pain". It is a symptom rather than a specific Disease. The most common reason for Sciatica is Nerve Compression of a Spinal Nerve inside the Spine, typically from a Disc Herniation (slipped disc).

While we typically feel Sciatica as a sharp pain in the leg, it can also be felt as low back pain, buttock pain, tingling, numbness and even weakness in the leg or foot. The specific symptoms often depend on how much irritation, inflammation, or compression of the Spinal Nerve exists. Spinal Nerves which are badly compressed by a large Disc Herniation (slipped disc) can cause significant numbness and weakness in the leg. Milder cases may only be felt as an occasional buttock or leg discomfort.

Lets take a look at the Nervous System on a Color X-Ray Image to learn about the Sciatic and Spinal Nerves. This Image shows you that Sciatica is a bit of a misnomer since not the entire Sciatic Nerve becomes inflamed and painful. Rather, typically only one Spinal Nerve is irritated and inflamed. This Spinal Nerve does become part of the Sciatic Nerve for a short distance, but then branches back out and travels to a specific part of the leg. This is why Sciatica usually only causes pain in one area of the leg, rather than the entire leg. This Image is Interactive. Move your mouse cursor over the Image and you will see the Interactive Image tags appear. Each tag will display text to explain a specific structure on the Image.

Color X-Ray Images of the Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerves, Sciatica
Interactive Color X-Rays showing the Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerves and Sciatic Nerve

Next, we can take a look at the Anatomy of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) to better understand how we develop Sciatica. This Image is also Interactive and tells you about the main parts of our Low Back (Lumbar Spine).

Sagittal Color MRI Lumbar Spine Anatomy
Interactive Color MRI of the Anatomy of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)
The next Color MRI Image shows you what a Normal Spine looks like compared to one with Disc Herniations. Notice how Disc Material has migrated outward from the Center of the Disc (green) to become Disc Herniations (red). In some ways this can be compared to a tube of toothpaste (disc)where the toothpaste leaks out (herniates) if someone steps on it.

Sagittal Lumbar Spine Color MRI Normal Discs and Disc Herniations
Color MRI of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) showing a Normal Spine and one with Disc Herniations

To get a better 3-dimensional sense of how a Disc Herniation causes Sciatica, we have to take a look at MRI slices which are cuts across the spine (cross-sections). Notice the proximity of the Spinal Nerve next to the Spinal Disc. This is the main reason why we get Sciatica. This next Image is also Interactive. Each structure is explained by text.

Axial Lumbar Spine Color MRI Normal Disc, Disc Herniation
Interactive Color MRI of a cross-section of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)
Approximately 90% of patients with Sciatica will get pain relief within 6 weeks, with or without treatment. However, Medications, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Spinal Injections and other non-surgical treatments can help with pain relief until the inflammation of the Spinal Nerve subsides.

If you liked this quick Visual Review of Sciatica, here other related topics from recent MMI Blogs:
What is an Epidural Injection? Shown and explained with Color MRI Images
What is a Osteoporosis related Spine Fracture (Compression Fracture)? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray, CT, and MRI Images
What is a Spinal Fusion Surgery of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray Images
What is a "Spondylolisthesis" of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images.
Fractured Vertebrae in the Low Back (Lumbar Compression Fracture) shown and explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images 
Spinal Stenosis of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) shown and explained with Color MRI Images
Disc Herniations of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) shown and explained with Color MRI Images
Lumbar (low-back) Artificial Disc Replacements shown and explained with the help of Color X-Rays
Scoliosis show and explained on Color X-Ray Images
Lumbar Facet Joint Injection for Low Back Pain shown on a Color MRI

Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images and text like the ones featured in this Blog are available for Licensing for Websites and Publications at
The Content of this Blog Including text and images are Copyright Medical Media Images
General Disclaimer
Medical Media Images does NOT dispense medical or legal advice. Our images, text and any content cannot be used for diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition. All Images and content are for information purposes only. You must consult with your physician if you need medical advice. Medical Media Images is not a substitute for medical advice.

No comments:

Post a Comment