Sciatica

Definition:
Sciatica is classified as pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower back and travels down the hips, buttocks, and legs. Sciatica typically develops from a herniated disc or bone spur in the spine, and usually affects one side of the body. Sciatica may also occur in patients with spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal. To effectively mitigate sciatica, the underlying condition that is initially causing the pain must be addressed first. More often that not, minimally invasive spine surgery is suggested for sciatica patients who have a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. If a patient does not wish to have surgery, they may want to consider interventional pain care at TriState Pain Institute to treat their sciatica. 

Causes:
Sciatica is a repercussion of other spinal conditions, such as a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. When the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, usually by a damaged spinal disc compressing the spinal cord, it can cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. In rare instances, sciatica can be caused by diabetes or a tumor developing in the spine. A physician at TriState Pain Institute will perform a physical examination and imaging tests before recommending treatment for a patient’s sciatica.

Symptoms:
The most notable symptom of sciatica is radiating pain that begins in the lower spine and travels down the hips, buttocks, and back of a leg. Patients may experience other symptoms such as pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve; pain that is dull and aching, or sharp and burning; pain that worsens when coughing or sneezing; numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot; and pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing. Immediate medical attention should be sought by patients with severe numbness in the lower back and legs and difficulty controlling bladder and bowel movements. 

Treatments:
Treatment for sciatica typically includes conservative, alternative, and interventional pain care methods. Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain medications may be recommended to patients with sciatica, as well as physical therapy, steroid injections, nerve blocks, and minimally invasive procedures. A TriState Pain Institute physician will recommend treatment based on the patient’s underlying condition and current symptoms.  

See all conditions

Get tips on managing pain in the latest edition of Pain News

Download