Sciatica: My Doctor Says I Have It, Now What?
Sciatica is a condition that is caused by an inflamed or pinched nerve in your back. A diagnosis of sciatica is always accompanied by another medical condition – the one that caused the pressure on the nerve in the first place. If your doctor has recently informed you that you have sciatica brought up on other back conditions, then it’s important that you treat them. These conditions can include spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease. Once this condition is treated, sciatica should cease. However, it all depends on the extent of your injuries.
What Exactly is Sciatica?
Those with sciatica think to themselves – “you know when you have it,” – because you certainly do. This condition is caused by pressure or inflammation in the back that pushes on the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs through your entire back, although the pain is generally felt down one leg or the other. The symptoms of sciatica can range from mildly annoying to very painful. Generally, they include pain or weakness or numbness in one leg, pain that radiates down the entire leg into the foot or ankle, and feelings of tingling, burning, or even searing pain. As you can see, due to the location of the sciatic nerve, this pain shoots down one of your legs, if not both of them. Plus, it’s accompanied by additional back pain since issues with the spine are what puts the pressure on the sciatic nerve in the first place.
Treatments for Sciatica
In order to treat the sciatic nerve pain (or sciatica, as it’s often called) the main issue with the back needs to be treated, as well. There are a number of non-invasive options that are known to work well. For example, physical therapy is often the first choice for many patients. This involves doing a number of exercises, as overseen by a physical therapist. This treats the cause of your back pain, alleviates your sciatica, and strengthens your back in order to prevent reinjuring it.
Additional treatments for sciatica include placing heating pads or ice on the back, often for 20 minutes at a time. This helps with any lingering inflammation that may be putting that pressure on the nerve. Sometimes the heat and ice are alternated in order to numb and then treat the area. Plus, over the counter pain medications are given that can help as well. In some cases, a muscle relaxer or a nerve medication may help.
Finally, the last treatment for sciatica is one that’s slightly more invasive. Designed to lessen pain, epidural injections take care of any lingering inflammation. These injections are completed as an outpatient procedure. The doctor administering them will do an x-ray to ensure that they reach the right area of the back. Before you can go home, you will need to lie on your stomach for a short while post injection.
Book an appointment today and let us help you manage your sciatic pain.