Sciatica treatment in Penfield
Sciatica is leg pain that is commonly caused by a herniated disc. When a disc develops a tear or crack and bulges into the spinal canal, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can cause some people severe pain and can even be debilitating. For others, sciatica might be irritating and infrequent. However, it does have the potential to get worse as time goes on.
What causes sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is a lumbar disc herniation directly pressing on the nerve but any irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve can create sciatica symptoms. Other causes of sciatica can include:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
How can I tell if I have sciatica?
While sciatica affects everyone differently, the following are the most common symptoms:
- Pain that radiates from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg. The pain is usually on one side of the body.
- Though a person does experience back pain, the leg pain is much more severe
- Pain that worsens when standing or sitting, but improves when lying down or resting
- “Pins and Needles” sensation in the leg
- Numbness and tingling in the leg
Sciatica can be diagnosed by a physical exam and an imaging test. During a physical exam, a doctor might check muscle strength and reflexes. If your sciatica is being caused by a herniated disc or bone spur, a doctor might suggest an imaging test, such as an X-ray, MRI, CT Scan or EMG.
Treatment for sciatica
Usually symptoms clear up within about six weeks, but there are a number of treatment options if your sciatica pain lasts longer than expected:
Heat and ice packs can help alleviate the initial leg pain. They should be applied for about 20 minutes, and repeated every two hours. Whether ice or heat work better depends on the type of pain. You can alternate the two until you find out what’s best for you.
Several types of medication may be used to treat persistent sciatica pain. The most common medications include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or NSAIDS
- Muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms
- Narcotics and other prescription medications for more severe pain
- Tricyclic antidepressants for lower back pain
After your pain improves, your physician might design a rehab program to prevent further injuries and pain. Usually physical therapy includes exercises that will help correct your posture, strengthen the muscles in your back, and improve flexibility.
If the pain is severe enough, your doctor might recommend injection of a corticosteroid medication into the area to reduce inflammation. The effects of epidural steroid injections last only a few months, but they can be very effective in reducing the inflammation that might cause the pain.
Surgery is only an option when the compressed nerve causes weakness, loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control, or when the pain worsens.
Call Greater Rochester Orthopaedics at (585) 295-5476 if you’re struggling with sciatica pain. Our physicians will work with you to find a treatment that works to alleviate sciatica nerve pain.