When the sciatic nerve is irritated or injured, you may have excrutiating low back pain which radiates down your leg, to below the knee.
Beginning from nerve roots in the spinal cord, the sciatic nerve extends through the lower back and buttocks, all the way down to the lower extremities. Sciatica pain is usually felt in the lower back, down to behind the thigh, and, in some cases, all the way below the knee. The treatment for Sciatica will depend on the severity of the pain, as well as the underlying cause of the Sciatica. Relatively minor Sciatica pain may resolve on its own with the use of anti-inflammatory OTC drugs, muscle relaxants, exercises and time, although about 10-15 percent of those with Sciatica may eventually require surgery to relieve their pain.
Causes of Sciatica
There are any number of causes of Sciatica, however the most common causes of the condition include:
- An abnormal intervertebral disc—also known as a radiculopathy
- A pinched nerve
- Irritation of the Sciatic nerve from a tumor
- Irritation of the Sciatic nerve from an infection
- Internal bleeding in the area of the Sciatic nerve
- Injury to the Sciatic nerve or to the lumbar spine
- Degenerative arthritis
- A slipped disc
- Disease of the lumbar disc
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Sciatica
If you have Sciatica, you may feel a burning pain in the lower back and upper buttock which can radiate down the back of the leg. You may also suffer numbness or tingling, which radiates in the same area. If your Sciatica is severe, you could find it difficult to walk, and your Sciatica may be aggravated by bending at the waist. Lying down can often relieve at least some of the pain of Sciatica. Your healthcare provider will diagnose your Sciatica through a thorough medical history and a physical exam. In some instances, x-rays, CT scans or MRI scans may also be used to rule out other conditions and help diagnose Sciatica.
Treatment of Sciatica
The Seattle Pain interventional pain management specialists will evaluate your pain in order to develop a customized pain treatment program for your Sciatica. Whenever possible, we want to help you avoid surgery, while relieving your pain, through both traditional and non-traditional methods, including:
- Pharmacotherapy, such as over-the-counter NSAIDS, muscle relaxants, and membrane-stabilizing drugs
- Epidural steroid injections
- Transcutaneous electrical stimulation
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Trigger point injections
- Disc decompression
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