The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It stretches from your lower back, through your buttocks and the back of your legs, and down to the muscles in your lower legs and feet. “Sciatica” is the medical term describing irritation of the sciatic nerve, usually from a herniated or slipped disc.
Sciatica symptoms can range from annoying to debilitating, but it doesn’t have to keep you from working or enjoying your favorite activities. The Heilman Center’s experienced pain specialists can provide a range of sciatica treatment options to get you back on the move.
Sciatica often begins as an unexplained pain in the back of your leg. Even though sciatica is related to a pinched nerve or a herniated disc in your back, you may or may not feel sciatica back pain. Many patients report experiencing symptoms for the first time after lifting something heavy or after twisting their backs into an awkward position.
Common sciatica symptoms:
- Shooting or stabbing leg pain in your legs or buttocks, usually on one side of your body.
- Tingling or numbness in your lower extremities, particularly after sitting for long periods.
- Weakness or difficulty moving your lower legs and feet.
You may have tried to stretch your sore leg muscles but discovered that stretching doesn’t bring relief. That’s because the pain is referred from your back, at the point where the nerve is pinched, to the lower part of your body.
You may also find that you’re avoiding certain activities because you’re afraid to experience pain. Many patients seek sciatica treatment because their pain is causing them to feel depressed and socially withdrawn.
Most cases of sciatica occur because the sciatic nerve, on one or both sides of the body, becomes pinched at the point where it extends from the spinal cord and goes into the lower body. A pinched sciatic nerve can be caused by:
- Slipped or bulging discs. Slipped disc or bulging disc — officially known as herniated disc — occurs when a crack or tear in the tough outer membrane of a lower back spinal disc causes the jelly-like material inside to leak or become displaced. The disc becomes compressed, which in turn presses on the sciatic nerve.
- Degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease occurs when multiple spinal discs have become damaged, usually through the natural process of aging. Most people experience no symptoms as they age, but some experience significant sciatica symptoms.
- Spinal disorders. Less common conditions like spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the area around the spinal column), spondylosis (destruction of the spinal cartilage resulting in inflammation and possible bone spurs), or spondylolisthesis (when one vertebrae becomes displaced and slips over another) can also cause sciatic leg pain.
- Osteoarthritis. Degeneration in the back cartilage from arthritis can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Osteoporosis. If spinal vertebrae lose their bone density, they can develop mild to severe compression fractures that press one the sciatic nerve.
Our Sciatica Pain Treatment Options
If you’re in significant pain, and sciatica symptoms are interfering with work, hobbies, and everyday life, talk to a pain specialist about sciatica treatment:
- Medication. With a carefully managed medication regimen, you can experience short-term relief from sciatica pain. Medication, however, isn’t a long-term sciatica cure. You’ll want to explore other alternatives.
- Interventional procedures. Spinal injections can reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve and provide sciatic nerve pain relief.
- Surgery. Although patients rarely need surgery, a minimally invasive procedure can often reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. Many procedures can be completed on an outpatient basis, without general anesthesia, and with short recovery periods.
Get Help Now
The Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care’s experienced pain specialists offer sciatica treatment in a hospital setting. Start treating your pain and returning to the activities you love. To schedule an appointment, call 888-683-0716 or fill out our contact form now.