Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, is a condition that affects the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. This condition compresses the sciatic nerve, which extends from your spinal cord to your feet. When a spine condition, such as a bulging disc or herniated disc, compresses the sciatic nerve, pain can radiate from the lower back down to the feet. This can result in a number of painful symptoms, so it is important to consult your doctor to ensure the pain does not worsen.

Causes

Sciatica causes can include spine conditions, including a herniated disc, or injuries such as a sprain of the piriformis muscles in the buttocks. Your spinal vertebrae are cushioned by rubbery discs, which absorb shock and allow the spine to bend and twist. Over time, these discs can begin to degenerate due to natural changes combined with the stress they are placed under on a daily basis. A bulging or herniated disc causes sciatica by pressing on sciatic nerve roots, causing pain and symptoms beginning in the lower back and radiating into the lower body, usually on one side or another.  

Other causes may include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Pelvic injury or fracture
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

Treatment

Upon diagnosis of sciatica, your doctor will typically begin reviewing conservative treatment options. In many cases, sciatica can be treated without surgery and can offer patients lasting results. Some conservative methods include:

  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Exercise
  • Periods of rest
  • Massage therapy
  • Steroidal injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Improving posture

Before engaging in any of these methods, it is important to ask your doctor if it would be effective for your specific case of sciatica. If a patient tries conservative treatment options are still experiences pain, they may be a candidate for surgery.

Symptoms

Sciatic nerve pain symptoms vary considerably, depending on the type and severity of the underlying condition. You may feel tingling, numbness, weakness, or a dull to sharp shooting pain down the thigh and leg.  Typically, the pain starts slowly and affects only one side of the body at a time but it is possible to experience it on both sides as well. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sitting, standing, or walking
  • Worsening pain when you cough, laugh or sneeze
  • Discomfort when leaning backward
  • Muscle weakness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Certain types of scoliosis may be more serious and require immediate action. 

Diagnosis

A physician or spine specialist will typically use the following methods to form a sciatica diagnosis:

  • Medical review: Asking questions about the patient’s symptoms and their location, duration, and severity of pain can help the physician to form a diagnosis.
  • Physical examination: Palpating the spine can help the physician determine the exact source of discomfort. 
  • Diagnostic tests: A CT scan or MRI can provide an image of the internal structure of the spine, giving a more precise view of the location and source of sciatic nerve compression.

Surgical Treatment Options

BEST Health System offers two types of minimally-invasive surgery to treat sciatica – minimally-invasive decompression surgery and minimally-invasive stabilization surgery. Our procedures offer patients a  safer and more effective surgical alternative to traditional open-back surgery with a lower risk of complication. 

If you are interested in learning more about the surgical options offered through BEST Health System, reach out to our dedicated team today.

BEST Health System

If you have been diagnosed with sciatica, you do not have to suffer in pain. Allow our team of medical professionals to guide you on your path to recovery. 

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