When we talk of sciatica pain, we’re referring to painful symptoms in your buttocks or legs that travel along your sciatic nerve causing numbness, weakness and pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest type of nerve in your body. Each of us has two sciatic nerves that start on each side of the lower spine and run through the buttocks, the back of the legs and all the way down through the legs to the feet. These nerves play an important role in connecting your spinal cord with your leg and feet muscles. Any pain felt along the sciatic nerve is referred to as sciatica.
Sciatica is a complex condition that can be difficult to diagnose. Nevertheless, it is a relatively common type of pain with a number of available treatment options.
What Causes Sciatic Pain?
Generally, sciatica is caused by some sort of compression of a spinal nerve in the lower back. Most commonly, sciatica comes from nerve contact or compression at L4 or L5, but other levels can also contribute. In a number of cases, we see sciatica pain as a result of irritation of the L5 or S1 nerve root in the lower back. Both herniated and bulging discs can cause this type of irritation. Other common causes of sciatica are spinal stenosis, bone spurs or complications from disease, for example diabetes. Other less common causes of sciatica are pregnancy, the presence of scar tissue, muscle strain, spinal tumors, infections or fractures.
For some people, sciatica pain is severe and debilitating, while for others it’s infrequent and simply irritating. Sciatica can be difficult to detect, but it usually only affects one side of the lower body. Sciatica is often associated with buttocks and leg pain, and in a typical case, the leg pain is more severe. It’s not unusual for patients to describe this pain as feeling like electrical shocks down their leg or to refer to it as burning or searing.
Other common symptoms of sciatica include:
- recurring pain in one side of your buttock or leg
- pain that increases when you sit or stand and decreases when you lie down or walk
- burning and tingling pain down the leg
- A pins-and-needles sensation or a pricking sensation down the leg
In some cases, sciatica can make it difficult to move your legs, feet or toes and can make it challenging to stand or walk. Additionally, sometimes symptoms are exacerbated by sudden movements – for example, from a sneeze – or when you change positions.
Non-Surgical Sciatica Treatment Options
For anyone with sciatica pain, the first question is often, can sciatica be cured? The primary objective of non-surgical sciatica treatments is to relieve the pain and symptoms caused by the compressed nerve root. The majority of sciatica cases can successfully be treated with non-surgical therapies and symptoms will subside within 6-12 weeks.
The best way to treat sciatica is usually through a combination of treatments including physical therapy, lifestyle modifications and medication. In addition, spinal cord stimulation treatment can be effective. This innovative treatment uses high-frequency stimulation to cause a tingling sensation that offsets sciatica pain.
Sciatica nerve pain exercises, in combination with other treatment, can also be an effective way to alleviate sciatica pain. When doing nerve pain stretches, you always want to be cautious to make sure that you don’t make things worse. It’s normal to feel the stretch, but you should not feel any additional pain when stretching and should stop immediately if you do. Nerve pain exercises can be part of effective sciatica treatment, but it’s still best to consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen to make sure that you don’t do anything to worsen the condition.
If you’re experiencing sciatica pain, call us today. We will first perform a comprehensive physical exam to fully understand and diagnose this complex condition. Next, we will create a treatment plan combining an array of innovative therapies to ensure that you get sciatica relief as soon as possible.