Overview of Sciatica
Sciatica is the name for a group of symptoms of the lower back or hip including pain, tingling, numbness and weakness, that radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg. Sciatica can start gradually or occur suddenly. Sciatica is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica is most commonly a symptom of a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, spondylolisthesis and piriformis syndrome. Sciatica is commonly seen in the pain management practice of Dr. Jeff Halsell and Dr. Brandon Claflin. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down the legs.
- A herniated disk may cause sciatica by placing pressure on the nerve root.
- Spinal stenosis causes sciatica when the narrowing of the spinal canal places pressure on the nerves.
- Degenerative disk disease results in sciatica when inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the nerve roots.
- Spondylolisthesis results in sciatica when a vertebra slips out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits.
- Piriformis muscle may cause sciatica when the muscle irritates or pinches a nerve root that impacts the sciatic nerve.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Sciatica
Sciatica can be diagnosed by your physician, including Dr. Brandon Claflin and Dr. Jeff Halsell, using X-Ray, MRI, CT Scan or Myelogram (X-Ray with contrast). The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and restore mobility. Approximately 80-90% of patients see improvement in their sciatica over time without surgery, typically within a few weeks. Treatment options include:
- Rest including the application of heat and ice and over-the-counter pain medications.
- Physical therapy including exercise movements and stretching that decrease sciatic pain by reducing pressure on the nerve.
- Spinal injections of anti-inflammatory medicine into the lower back to reduce swelling and inflammation of the nerve roots, usually performed by a pain management specialist.
- Surgery if rest, physical therapy, and spinal injections do not relieve your sciatica pain.