Sciatica Pain Treatment and Management
Sciatica refers to pain in the hips, legs, lower back, or glutes caused by pinching or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower back and continues through the hips and both legs. Often, sciatic pain can be resolved at home. However, some cases require medical attention.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Most symptoms of sciatica occur along the sciatic nerve. Some of the most common sciatica symptoms are shooting pain, tingling, numbness, burning, and muscle weakness.
It’s common for sciatica pain to feel sharp, shooting, or result in a burning sensation. Pain may occur in the glutes, hips, lower back, or down one of your legs. Sciatic leg pain usually only occurs in one leg at a time.
Numbness may occur due to sciatica as well, most often experienced in the feet or legs. Tingling and muscle weakness typically occur in the legs, toes, and feet, which may feel like a pins and needles sensation.
Sciatic pain may be aggravated if you sneeze, cough, or if you stand or sit for prolonged periods. Depending on the person, this medical condition may occur suddenly, or it may take time for it to appear.
Causes of Sciatica
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or bulging disc. However, sciatica can also be caused by bone spurs, spinal stenosis, injuries, tumors, and piriformis syndrome.
Obesity, diabetes, age, and a sedentary lifestyle can all lead to sciatica as well. While these factors are not causes themselves, they can lead to herniated disks, bone spurs, and stress on the spine. All of these can lead to sciatica.
It’s essential to try to pinpoint any underlying causes. Getting to the root of the problem may help us form a treatment plan to reduce pain more effectively. It can also prevent sciatica from reoccurring.
Treatment and Pain Relief Options
Thankfully, there are sciatica treatment options available, whether you see a doctor or choose to practice self-care at home.
Sciatica symptoms in the hips, glutes, legs, and back may all be relieved through anti-inflammatory medications. Common pain relievers used are ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe a prescription pain reliever.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers. This type of medication is used to relieve muscle spasms, which can cause considerable pain.
Physical therapy is also a common treatment used to combat sciatica. A physical therapist can work with you to strengthen weak areas most affected by sciatica, specifically your core. Soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons may need special attention. A physical therapist can also give you at-home stretches and exercises to complete to help your recovery.
In some cases, your physician may administer steroid injections. These injections reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve; however, they are spaced out and limited due to side effects. Your physician may also prescribe oral steroids to treat your pain.
Exercise may be encouraged, as well. While it is crucial to get enough rest, maintaining physical activity is also essential. You may need to modify how much physical activity you get each day. Swimming and walking are great options for low impact exercise. However, talk to our doctor before engaging in any activity.
Cold packs or heating pads may provide temporary pain relief. Consider limiting bed rest as well. Movement can be useful when treating sciatica. Some patients find relief through chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture as well.
Your physician may suggest surgery if nothing else works and severe symptoms are present. These symptoms may include urinary and bowel incontinence or extreme weakness. Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases of sciatica.
How to Prevent Sciatica
Sometimes, we can do everything right and still fall ill. However, preventative measures can reduce your chances of experiencing sciatica. Making lifestyle changes is the primary way to prevent sciatica.
These changes include practicing correct posture at all times, maintaining regular physical activity, quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, and lifting objects with the proper posture. It may also help to reduce excess weight if obese and maintain a healthy body weight.
When Should I See A Doctor?
It’s important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing debilitating pain or if your pain has not resolved within a few weeks. If you are experiencing sciatica symptoms, you should not ignore them. Seeking medical help is a smart course of action if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
Our specialists are trained and equipped to help you fight sciatica. Whether your pain is mild but persistent or sudden and severe, we are ready to serve you. We can help you kick your pain to the curb. Give us a call at 480-986-7246 to schedule an appointment.
Bed rest helps relieve the pain and discomfort. However, rest itself is not a treatment. The treatment options for sciatica depend on the cause. But the common treatments include physical therapy, stretching exercises and low back conditioning. These are paired with medications such as antidepressants, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants and pain relievers. In chronic forms of sciatica, transcutaneous nerve stimulators are used as treatment.
Other treatments include cortisone medications, which could be oral or injected, the latter is known as epidural injection. If non-surgical treatments still don’t provide relief to the symptoms, surgical procedures may be required.
Treating sciatica requires the expertise of pain specialists. AZ Pain and Spine is a specialist that offers pain management and treatment solutions for sciatica and other pain conditions.