How to Identify and Treat Your Sciatica Pain

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( — October 26, 2016) — It’s common for people to experience pain caused by irritation of their sciatic nerve. It is known as sciatica. This is the longest and widest nerve in a person’s body. It starts in the lower back and ends just below a person’s knee. The sciatica nerve controls different muscles in a person’s lower legs as well as a person’s sense of touch in that same area of the body, including the foot.

Causes of Sciatica

These are some of the conditions that can cause a person sciatica pain:

– Lumbar spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of a person’s spinal canal in their lower back

– Being overweight

– Wearing high heel shoes for an extended period of time on a regular basis

– Pregnancy

– Degenerative disc disease, or the breakdown of discs in a person’s spine

– Spondylolisthesis, or when one vertebra overlaps with another

– Muscles spasms that occur in a person’s buttocks or back

– Spinal injuries

– Spinal infections

– Tumors in the spine that press against the root of a person’s sciatic nerve

Symptoms of Sciatica

Some of the more common symptoms of sciatica are a constant pain in the buttocks or leg when sitting, lower back pain, hip pain as well as a burning or tingling sensation that moves down a person’s leg. A person may struggle to move a leg or foot because of numbness or weakness or feel a shooting pain that makes it a challenge for one to stand up. If a person experiences mild symptoms of sciatica that don’t last longer than eight weeks, medical attention may not be necessary. These situations often resolve themselves. In other cases, people may experience pain infrequently. This does have the potential to become worse over time. It’s also possible for people to develop serious sciatica pain that is debilitating.

Diagnosing Sciatica

When a person seeks medical attention for back pain, a physician will want to start with a physical exam. They will check a person’s reflexes as well as muscle strength. A patient may be asked to walk on their heels, lift one leg at a time, stand from a squatting position and more. Sciatica pain will often worsen during such activities. The next step may be imaging tests to see exactly where the issue is. This could include an X-ray of the spine to reveal what may be pressing on the sciatic nerve. You could also get a MRI, which could be used to see the detailed images of bone and soft tissue. A CT scan could also be used, and that uses a dye that circulates around the spinal nerve and locates any problems. An Electromyography (EMG) test is another test that could be implemented to calculate the electrical impulses created by a person’s nerves that are responding to their muscles. This is a good way to identify nerve compression.

Treating Acute Sciatica

Acute sciatica symptoms normally last less than eight weeks. Over-the-counter medications such as painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories as well as acetaminophen can help with acute sciatica symptoms. It’s important people check with a pain management specialist like Champey Pain Group to see if over-the-counter medications will help. In many situations, alternating between hot and cold compresses help decrease pain. Regular exercise also helps with acute sciatica. This could involve light stretching, walking or other types of exercise. Always talk with your doctor before starting a workout routine to make sure it is the right one for you.

Treating Chronic Sciatica

This condition involves a person having sciatic pain for longer than eight weeks. Treatment could involve a variety of opiate-based prescription painkillers. Physical therapy is one way to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. Chiropractic treatment is also a great way to help with the realignment of the spine and the sciatic nerve. Working with pain management specialists has also been successful when treating this condition.

The final option is surgery if the sciatic pain has not stopped with other treatments. A lumbar laminectomy widens the spinal cord to decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve while others would get a discectomy, which will remove a damaged spinal disc partially or totally.

No matter how severe your pain is, it is always a good idea to check with your pain management specialist like Champey Pain Group to make sure your condition does not get uncontrollable. This is a disease that can be treated early, so make sure you get the help you need as soon as you notice signs of sciatic nerve pain.