What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a type of pain originating in the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve branches off of your spinal nerves in the lower back, and travels through your hips, buttocks, and down the legs.
Also known as lumbar radiculopathy, sciatic nerve pain occurs when some obstruction – like a herniated disc or a bone spur – compresses, pinches, irritates, or other spinal nerve damage.
Any irritation or inflammation of a nerve resulting from disc herniation is called a radiculopathy. In addition to disc herniation, the sciatic nerve may become irritated by adjacent structures as well. However, the most common cause of sciatica is a disc herniation.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and exits the spinal cord as several nerve roots which join to form the sciatic nerve. The nerve and the accompanying pain will radiate from the low back to travel behind the thigh and often below the knee to the ankle or foot. This can cause acute, severe pain, burning, tingling or numbness that radiates from the lower back and buttock around the back of the thigh to cause low back pain, buttock pain, hip pain, leg pain, and can make it extremely difficult to move, walk, and get through the day, limiting physical activity.
What Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Typically, the sciatic nerve is damaged or compressed as a result of some other condition. Determining the cause of your particular case is an important diagnostic step in developing your course of treatment options. Causes of sciatica may be a complication of conditions such as:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).
- Degenerative disc disease.
- Lumbar disc herniation (slipped discs)
- Bone spurs.
- Traumatic injuries.
Accurate diagnosis is important to determine the source of pain. A complete physical examination and review of medical history will be conducted by our award-winning pain management specialists. Physical therapy, stretching exercises, pain medication, and joint injections are used first to manage the symptoms. Fortunately, there are conservative steps you can take to reduce sciatica pain and improve your quality of life.
Signs and symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, but most people experience symptoms in only one leg at a time. The pain can range from moderate to debilitating, and usually includes:
- Sharp, burning sensations.
- Jolting pain, similar to an electrical shock.
- Low back pain.
- Pain that radiates from the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of the leg.
- Flare-ups of pain when coughing or sneezing.
- Pain during extended periods of sitting.
- Muscle weakness.
- Tingling (“pins and needles”).
- Loss of control of bowel or bladder.
Sciatica Pain Relief
Often with sciatica, the pain will resolve itself in a matter of weeks or months. This is one reason why our physician recommends a conservative approach, especially during the initial stages.
Physical therapists can reduce pain, increase strength, improve posture and mobility, and help you return to your normal activities. Our award-winning physician will design a custom rehabilitation program suited to your needs.
If your symptoms fail to respond, there are a number of advanced, nonsurgical treatment options that we can explore, such as:
A mixture of anti-inflammatory medication and anesthetic can reduce inflammation, letting the pressure off of pain-generating spinal nerves.
Jets of water wash away damaged spinal tissue to relieve pressure.
A device inserted under the skin interrupts pain signals on their way to the brain.
A small implant is inserted between the vertebrae, acting as an extension blocker and relieving nerve pressure.
A2M (Alpha-2-Macroglubulin) injections.
A2M is an advanced, nonsurgical treatment for osteoarthritis. The A2M protein binds to the enzymes that degrade cartilage cells, protecting joints from further damage and enabling natural healing.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections.
An injection of your own highly-concentrated plasma boosts healing power in your spinal tissue.
The care team at Nuvo Spine specializes in cutting-edge, minimally-invasive interventions for effective pain management, providing you with comfort and peace of mind. If you’re looking for nerve pain solutions for you or a loved one, give us a call today.