Everything You Need to Know About Sciatica

Sciatica pain refers to a stabbing or sharp sensation along the sciatic nerve. It runs from the lower back down through the legs and down to the heel. The symptoms can vary depending on the position of each leg’s spine or pelvis (sciatic nail). Sciatica symptoms include pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in the legs, buttocks and lower back. The pain may also affect the ankle or foot very rarely. Sciatica is not a diagnosis but a series of symptoms. You should see a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating sciatica in Friendswood.

Causes Of Sciatica

Sciatica is most commonly caused by compression of nerve roots in the lower back, also known as “slipped” or “extruded discs”, degenerative spinal disease and rare tumors. Sciatica is usually caused by one nerve root pressing against the other. One nerve root exits between each pair in the sacral and lumbar spines (L1-L4). Sciatica is a condition where the nerve root is pinched or irritated.

There are many risk factors that can lead to sciatica. These risk factors include:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Tobacco products that can be chewed or smoked
  • Obesity

Driving, prolonged sitting, long-standing, standing on hard surfaces, and wearing high heels can increase the pressure on the nerves in the buttocks, legs, and feet.

Diagnosis for Sciatica

The diagnosis can be made by a physical exam and a medical evaluation that includes diagnostic imaging (xrays and MRI imaging). Your doctor might also recommend that you rule out osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, narrowing of the canal, and other conditions.

Treatment of Sciatica

Sciatica pain treatment could include:

  • Combination of rest.
  • Use over-the-counter medication such as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Prescription medication.

For more severe cases, epidural steroids injections or radiofrequency denervation can be used. These inject chemicals into the nerve roots to “poison”, and/or surgery.

Sciatica pain can be relieved by over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, Tylenol, or ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin). If necessary, your family physician may prescribe stronger medications.

Surgery is a great option for severe pain that cannot be helped by other options. There are many surgical options, but the most popular are microdiscectomy and laminotomy.

Lifestyle changes that can be made to help sciatica include not sitting or standing for too long. This will pressure the nerve root. The exercise ball can be used to support the lower back and keep it strong. It is recommended that you take a break from sitting for prolonged periods of time by getting up and moving around for five to ten minutes every 30 minutes. It is important to maintain a good posture when sitting. Don’t slouch forward or lean forward.

Sciatica, in short, is a painful condition that results from sciatic nerve compression. Sciatica can be caused by obesity, smoking, or lifting heavy objects. A physical exam and a medical evaluation are often required to diagnose sciatica. Your doctor might recommend medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes to address the condition.

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