Sciatica Treatment

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a painful condition caused by pressure on or injury to the sciatic nerve. Spreading from the lower back down each leg, the sciatic nerve affects the hips, buttocks, and legs. This nerve can become pinched or irritated by an inflamed spinal disc or bone spur, causing steady pain from the lower back or hip down into the leg.

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Common and treatable, sciatica generally only affects one side of the body, but can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. You may experience a tightness or tingling down one leg that worsens with long periods of sitting, coughing, or other sudden movements. These symptoms can last from several days to several weeks or more.

Sciatica differs from typical back pain in the area affected. While back pain from straining or overuse is localized and acute, sciatica pain travels from the lower back down the entire leg into the foot, and can make the affected leg feel weak or numb. It tends to be more of a constant throbbing feeling than that of back pain.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica can develop from any added pressure on the sciatic nerve. It often begins suddenly and unexpectedly, and there may be no direct or specific cause. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • The sciatic nerve can become pinched or irritated as the uterus grows and expands.
  • Herniated disk. Disks, which serve as cushions between the vertebrae, grow weaker with age. More susceptible to injury, the gel inside the disk can push out of its lining and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Muscle injury, infection, or inflammation. Inflamed or injured muscles can place additional stress on the nerve.

How do I know if I have sciatica?

A physical exam is usually necessary to diagnose sciatica. Your doctor will inquire about the origination, location, and duration of your pain, and ask you to perform several muscle movements to evaluate the reaction of the sciatic nerve.

You may also receive imaging tests, MRI or CT scan, to show alignment and any pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.

The specialists at Oklahoma Pain Center can help determine if you have sciatica. If you have been suffering from constant, throbbing pain in your buttocks, hip, or leg, call our offices today at (405) 752-9600 to schedule an appointment.

How is Sciatica Treated?

Sciatica rarely requires surgical treatment and generally subsides within a few weeks. While sciatica is not usually remedied quickly, a variety of self-care activities, like stretching and light exercise, can help improve mobility, blood flow, and muscle function and get you feeling better sooner. If you have been diagnosed with sciatica, your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Alternating between heat and ice to reduce inflammation and dull any pain you are experiencing.
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs combined with a steroid injection to relieve or block pain, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue growth and repair.
  • Epidural steroid injections containing cortisone and a numbing agent to relieve back, neck, arm, and leg pain.
  • Alternative therapies like chiropractic, massage, stretching, or acupuncture to improve flexibility and function and release tension by adjusting and loosening the spine and back muscles.
  • Specialists like a pain management specialist or physical therapist to help identify ways to manage your pain and restore better range of motion.
  • 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week or exercises that avoid the injured muscle to encourage blood flow, muscle movement, and reduce inflammation. Physical exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins to relieve pain.
  • Increased periods of rest or reducing intense physical activity over the course of a week or two to allow your body to recover more thoroughly and reduce the chance of recurring pain.

The health professionals at Oklahoma Pain Center are committed to reducing your pain and improving your quality of life. Our specialists can determine if you have sciatica and help develop a holistic plan to get your body moving comfortably again. Call us today at (405) 752-9600 to schedule your appointment.

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