Sciatica

If you experience lower back pain, accompanied by tingling, numbness, and/or an achy sensation along your buttocks and/or down the back of your leg(s), you are probably suffering from sciatica.  Sciatica itself is not a condition. It is a symptom of a greater issue affecting your sciatic nerve. It can be something as mild as inflamed tissues compressing the sciatic nerve. Or, it can be something more significant, such as a herniated or ruptured disk in your lower spine.  

Whatever the case may be, you have come to the right place. There is relief available for both acute and chronic sciatica. Once a proper diagnosis is complete, you’ll be well on your way towards an effective treatment and an active lifestyle.

What Exactly Is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is comprised of five separate nerves that join together into one long nerve – the longest nerve in the human body.  It runs from the lower spinal cord (lumbar segments 4 and 5), through the buttock muscles, and down the backs of the legs to the sole of the foot. Compression of this nerve causes sciatica.

Symptoms of Sciatica:

When the nerve is compressed, you may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Pain - pain can be felt in sections or entirely along the sciatic nerve pathway.

  • Tingling or pins-and-needles - just like with pain, the nerve can be so compressed it transmits tingling and/or buzzing along its path.

  • Muscle weakness or numbness- if compression is severe enough, it may affect overall muscle control in hips/legs/feet.

  • Loss of control of bowels or bladder - this is a very rare occurrence, indicating a condition called cauda equina and requires immediate emergency treatment.

 

Sciatica Diagnosis and Treatment:

The wonderful news is that sciatica is almost always treatable. We will use a physical exam, routine muscle tests, as well as imaging tests to determine its cause.  Imaging tests may include:

  • X-Ray

  • MRI

  • CT Scan

 

Once we have determined the cause, we'll be able to prescribe the proper treatment.  

 

There are several successful treatments for sciatica:

  • Physical Therapy- if a disk is herniated, physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments work to realign the spine and allow the disk(s) time to heal, relieving pressure on the nerve.

  • Prescription Drugs - sometimes an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever can work to alleviate the compression.

  • Epidural Corticosteroid Injections - in more severe cases, steroid injections are used to suppress inflammation and eradicate the pain.

  • Surgery - this is a last resort and is only used when muscle function is negatively compromised.

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