The sciatic nerve is made of the nerve roots from the spinal cord into the lower back. These nerve roots affect the back, lower buttocks, the back of the leg, the ankle and the foot. Sciatic pain includes physical pain, numbness and tingling of these nerve roots.
A herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica. Other causes include spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal), bone spurs often caused by arthritis of disc degeneration, and pinched nerves (nerve root compression). The problems can arise through an injury or through wear and tear. Some non-spine causes include tumors and sometimes a pregnancy.
Pain in the areas affected by the sciatic nerve often appear in the back and buttocks and also the leg and even the foot. Pain can include numbness, tingling, pins and needles and weakness.
Activity such as walking, lying down and anything that extends the spine can generate some relief. Movements that contract the spine such as sitting or standing for a long period of time can contribute to the discomfort.
As with most medical conditions, a physical exam and medical history are the starting points. X-Rays and MRIs( magnetic resonance imaging) may also be recommended.
Medication and physical therapy are the starting points for treatment. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) may be prescribed. Physical therapies to extend the spine will be recommended and positions that contract the spine will be discouraged.
Some heat treatments such as a heating pad on a low or medium setting or an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours can help. An occasional warm shower and single-use heat wraps that last up to 8 hours can also help.
A lot of the treatment advice depends on determining the exact cause of the sciatica. Stronger medications and even surgery may be recommended for severe cases.
The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. Please make an appointment so we can formally review your medical condition. This brochure does not create a doctor/patient relationship.