Sciatica in the female patient: Anatomical considerations, aetiology and review of the literature

Clinique Romande de Réadaptation-Suvacare, Sion, Switzerland.
European Spine Journal (Impact Factor: 2.07). 07/2007; 16(6):721-31. DOI: 10.1007/s00586-006-0074-3
Source: PubMed


The principal author was confronted few years ago with the case of a 38-year-old woman with a 5-month history of ill-defined L5 sciatic pain that was referred to an orthopaedic department for investigation and eventual surgical treatment for what was suspected to be herniated disc-related sciatica. Removal of her enlarged uterus found unexpectedly close to the sacroiliac joint upon lumbar MRI abolished her symptoms. Review of the literature showed that the lumbosacral trunk is vulnerable to pressure from any abdominal mass originating from the uterus and the ovaries. Physiological processes in the female patient and gynaecological diseases may be the source of sciatica, often not readily searched for, leading to fruitless investigations and surgical treatments. The aim of the paper is to highlight gynaecological and obstetrical causes of sciatica and sciatica-like symptoms. To prevent unproductive expenses and morbidity, a thorough gynaecological examination should be done even though neurological examination may be suggestive of a herniated intervertebral disc, and the cyclic pattern of pain related to menses should be routinely asked for.

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Available from: Abdul Al-Khodairy, Dec 16, 2013
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    • "Pressure stimulation of the sciatic nerve is associated with hyperalgesia [1-3]. Recently, we found that acute pressure applied to the sciatic nerve inhibited pain [4,5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Acute pressure on the sciatic nerve has recently been reported to provide rapid short-term relief of pain in patients with various pathologies. Wide dynamic range (WDR) neurons transmit nociceptive information from the dorsal horn to higher brain centers. In the present study, we examined the effect of a 2-min application of sciatic nerve pressure on WDR neuronal activity in anesthetized male Sprague–Dawley rats. Results Experiments were carried out on 41 male Sprague–Dawley albino rats weighing 160–280 grams. Dorsal horn WDR neurons were identified on the basis of characteristic responses to mechanical stimuli applied to the cutaneous receptive field. Acute pressure was applied for 2 min to the sciatic nerve using a small vascular clip. The responses of WDR neurons to three mechanical stimuli applied to the cutaneous receptive field were recorded before, and 2, 5 and 20 min after cessation of the 2-min pressure application on the sciatic nerve. Two-min pressure applied to the sciatic nerve caused rapid attenuation of the WDR response to pinching, pressure and brushing stimuli applied to the cutaneous receptive field. Maximal attenuation of the WDR response to pinching and pressure was noted 5 min after release of the 2-min pressure on the sciatic nerve. The mean firing rate decreased from 31.7±1.7 Hz to 13±1.4 Hz upon pinching (p < 0.001), from 31.2±2.3 Hz to 10.9±1.4 Hz (p < 0.001) when pressure was applied, and from 18.9±1.2 Hz to 7.6±1.1 Hz (p < 0.001) upon brushing. Thereafter, the mean firing rates gradually recovered. Conclusions Our results indicate that acute pressure applied to the sciatic nerve exerts a rapid inhibitory effect on the WDR response to both noxious and innocuous stimuli. Our results may partially explain the rapid analgesic effect of acute sciatic nerve pressure noted in clinical studies, and also suggest a new model for the study of pain.
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