You’ve likely heard about sciatica and maybe if you’ve shared that you’re having pain in your lower back, buttocks, hips, and/or legs you’ve been told that it’s caused by it. But what exactly is sciatica and how can it be treated? Many patients turn to Integrated Pain Consultants when they suspect they have sciatica and help is certainly available. Sciatica typically only affects one side of the body, and it’s usually caused by either a herniated disc, narrowing of the spine, spinal bone spur, or a compressed nerve. The end result is pain, inflammation, and sometimes numbness in the leg.
The pain associated with sciatica ranges from mild to severe. Surgery is usually only reserved for those who experience significant leg weakness or bladder/bowel function changes, and this is very rare. If you notice a pain that radiates from the lumbar spine to the buttocks and down the back of a leg, that’s a classic sign of sciatica and you should be seen by a pain specialist.
Only a doctor can diagnose the cause of any pain. However, in addition to the hallmark presentation of where sciatica occurs, it’s also often described as a sharp and burning pain. Some patients find it excruciating, comparing it to an electric jolt. Sneezing, coughing, and sitting for long periods can make it worse. It’s not uncommon to also feel pain in one part of the leg and numbness elsewhere.
Mild sciatica will typically go away on its own. However, if you have moderate to severe pain, you’ll require quick medical attention. This is especially true if the sciatica was caused by an injury, if there is muscle weakness, or if you’re struggling to control your bladder and/or bowel functions. Sciatica got its name because the root cause is the sciatic nerve being pinched—and that can happen in a number of ways.
Older people are more prone to spinal changes, giving them a higher risk of developing sciatica. Obesity causes stress on the spine, and occupations that require carrying heavy loads, driving for long stretches, or twisting the back increase the risk of developing sciatica. Diabetes is also a common comorbidity with sciatica. Call Integrated Pain Consultants today to schedule a detailed evaluation.