What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a common type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back and down the back of each leg causing constant low back pain. In medical terminology, it refers to pressure on the nerve root at its connection to the spinal column.
The radiating pain can signal a problem involving the nerve, such as a herniated disc. Since it affects the lower back, also known as the lumbar spine, it is often the result of spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease or spondylolisthesis.
Sciatica is actually a term used to describe symptoms caused by compression of the sciatic nerve that runs from the spinal cord to the buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg. Common symptoms include constant low back pain and pain in the buttock hip or leg that becomes more intense when you sit down. Burning or tingling down the leg, weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot, or a constant ache or shooting pain on one side of the buttock or hip that may make it difficult to stand up are all symptoms of this condition.
How is Sciatica Diagnosed?
Sciatica can be the result of other conditions and is often diagnosed while the patient is seeking treatment for another problem or the patient is experience symptoms associated with sciatica.
Patients suffering from sciatica often feel lower back pain that extend to the buttocks, hamstring, calf, and foot. In addition to pain, signs of sciatica may also include tingling and numbness. And it is not uncommon for these symptoms to be felt on just one side of the body.
Sciatica Treatment Options
At Spine Centers of America, we take both surgical and non-surgical approaches to conditions of the spine on a case-by-case basis. No two are like and we treat your condition accordingly with a “patient first” mentality that has your best interest and wellness in mind. However, since your treatment involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified spine surgeon performs the procedure. Every physician at our comprehensive spine center is a board certified spinal surgeon.
For most people, self-care sciatica treatments can be successful. These treatments may include alternating cold and hot packs, stretching, exercise, and using over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and treat some of the pain. O Additional conservative, non-surgical sciatic nerve treatments include physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, prescription medications, and acupuncture. Depending on your condition, medicines prescribed may include anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants.
A surgical procedure to treat sciatica is usually reserved for situations when the compressed nerve causes significant muscle weakness, or severe pain that gets progressively worse. It is generally reasonable to consider a procedure if your symptoms haven’t improved after 2 to 3 months of conservative, non-surgical treatments. The main purpose of sciatica surgery is to decompress the nerve. Sciatic nerve decompression can be achieved with an open procedure or a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure. Conversely, an open sciatica decompression procedure requires that the surgeon cut open the skin with a large incision to gain access to the compressed nerve. Open procedures are invasive. With a minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon needs only a small incision to decompress the troubled nerve. For some people, the pain can be severe and debilitating.
For others, the pain from this condition might be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse. Seek immediate medical attention with any symptoms of progressive lower extremity weakness or experience loss of bladder or bowel control.
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