2011, two years before papa was diagnosed with CANCER, he suffered from acute pain in the lower back. The pain was so acute that papa couldn't put his feet on the ground. When visited the doctor, he informed us it was "Sciatica pain". Now what is sciatica pain? I will try to explain later in the chapter. My aim of discussing about it here is that I have come across three such people, who suffered from sciatica pain before succumbing to cancer.
Sciatica pain and cancer have some connection or not, that I don't know. But I am sure that it was a warning signal that was not noticed by the doctors neither in Mumbai - where papa felt the pain for the first time nor by the doctors in Delhi. And now my doubts have come true after I read an article from a Doctor in Ahmedabad- he had concluded that SCIATICA is prelude to gallbladder cancer.
What is SCIATICA?
Sciatica is pain in the lower back resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain of sciatica is typically felt from the low back (lumbar area) to behind the thigh and can travel down below the knee.
Anything that irritates this nerve can cause pain that ranges from mild to severe; usually, from a compressed nerve root in the lumbar (lower) spine. Often, the term "sciatica" is confused with general back pain. However, sciatica is not just limited to the back.
Sciatica is not, in fact, a condition, but rather a symptom of another problem involving the sciatic nerve. The most pervasive being a slipped disc.
The spinal column is made up of three parts:
Other causes of sciatica are :
- Tumors within the spine may compress the root of the sciatic nerve. ( Now I can relate to, when my father's backbone completely crumbled ...and he was bedridden for more then 4 months before he fell prey to cancer)
- Injury or some kind of infection within the spine.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis - a narrowing of the spinal cord (a channel within the vertebrae that contains the nerves) in the lower back that may compress the sciatic nerve.
- Cauda equina syndrome - a rare, but serious condition that affects the nerves on the lower part of the spinal cord; it requires immediate medical attention. Cauda equina syndrome may permanently damage the nervous system and even lead to paralysis.
- Spondylolisthesis - a condition in which a disc may slip forward over the vertebra below it, pinching the sciatic nerve.
In most of the cases there is no particular factor( or factors) that causes sciatica pain, but is said to be the result of strain between muscles, bones and joints. Therefore people affected mainly are above the age of 35.
- Smoking is a risk factor for cancer
- Age - due to the deterioration of discs, people in their 30s and 40s have a higher risk of developing sciatica.
- Lifestyle - people who sit for long periods and are not physically active.
- Profession - jobs that require lifting heavy loads for long period.