If you’ve been experiencing pain in your lower back; constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg; tingling, burning, or numbness in your leg, foot, or toes; or perhaps a sharp pain that makes it difficult to stand or walk – it’s important to know that if it is Sciatica it’s a symptom of another medical condition. Common lower back problems such as a lumbar herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease can all cause Sciatica. Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve that runs from your pelvic area down through your legs and feet is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin.
Medical doctors would all agree that Sciatica (pronounced sigh-AT-eh-kah) is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself, but it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back , typically at lumbar segment 3 (L3) and then combine to form the “sciatic nerve.” Sciatica rarely occurs before the age of twenty and becomes more commonplace around the age of forty or fifty. A particular event or injury doesn’t necessarily cause sciatica – rather it tends to develop over time.
With that said, constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg can occur. The pain can also get worse when you sit. This particular pain can be a burning, tingling, or even a searing pain accompanied by weakness, numbness, or an absolute difficulty in standing or walking. Sciatic pain can also vary from infrequent to constant.
So…What Can Be Done?
Nonsurgical sciatica treatments are available. Michigan Pain Consultants’ goal is to decrease your pain and increase your mobility.
- Physical Therapy: In reaching our goal we would develop exercises for you that would reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve such as stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of tight muscles and aerobic exercises including walking.
- Pain Medicine and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: These medications are designed to relieve both the pain and stiffness associated with sciatica and allow increased mobility and exercise. Many over-the- counter anti-steroidal medicines are available such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Muscle relaxants such as Flexeril may be prescribed to relieve discomfort of muscle spasms. However, depending on your level of pain, prescription pain medicines may be used in the early stages of treatment.
- Spinal Injection: An injection of a cortisone-like anti-inflammatory medicine into the lower back might help reduce swelling and inflammation of the nerve roots, allowing for increased mobility.
- Alternatives: Many people believe that yoga or acupuncture can improve sciatica. Massage might help muscle spasms that often occur along with sciatica. Biofeedback is an option to help manage pain and relieve stress, which can affect your ability to cope with pain. These are referred to as alternative therapies.
- Surgery: Commonly referred to as ‘the last resort’, surgery may be necessary for those patients who do not respond to conservative treatment, who have progressing symptoms, and who are in severe pain. Removing fragments of a herniated disc is one of the purposes of surgery.
Chronic (ongoing and lasting) pain is a complication of untreated sciatica. If the “pinched nerve” is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a “drop foot,” might occur. Seeing a doctor for sciatica pain is advised, both for learning how to reduce the pain and to check for the possibility of a serious medical issue.
Most people with sciatica (80 percent to 90 percent) will get better without surgery. It takes time, rest, and using common sense with activities. However, those who are affected with chronic sciatica need to see a specialist who can not only diagnose its cause, but also deliver chronic treatment.
Contact Michigan Pain Consultants Today
Make an appointment for a new patient consultation with one of their board certified pain physicians. All of Michigan Pain Consultant’s physicians are Board Certified in Anesthesiology or Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and have advanced training and experience in Pain Medicine. You can begin first by visiting online at MyLifeBeyondPain.com, MichiganPain.com, or by calling them at (800)281-3237.
For over 30-years and with six locations throughout West Michigan, Michigan Pain Consultants comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to pain care offers patients and providers renewed hope for relief from chronic pain. Chronic pain should be treated like other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or congestive heart failure. Chronic pain requires chronic treatment. The goal of the treatment is to optimize the management of the pain, as opposed to curing the pain.