It has happened to everyone at least a few times. You stand to walk, start to sit down, or move in the wrong way and all of a sudden, you don't feel so great. Whether it is a crimp, a twinge or a twang, it is uncomfortable, but quick.
For most of us, those little crimps and twinges go away on their own. For those with sciatic pain, they more than likely will not.
Symptoms of sciatica include:
- Consistent pain on one side of the lower back, buttock or leg
- Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk
Sciatica is not a diagnosis in itself. It is a symptom of an underlying condition or back issue.
The cause of sciatica is the roots of the spinal cord being compressed. This can happen at multiple points at the end of the spinal column. Because the symptoms of sciatica can be from numerous causes, treatment options vary just as much.
All non-surgical and surgical options have a goal of relieving the pain caused by these compressed nerve roots. A combination of treatments may be needed in order to fully remove the pain. Here are a few non-surgical options for sciatic relief:
- Applying both heat and ice is a good way to curb pain and inflammation caused by the root irritation. Make sure you ice before you add heat to reduce inflammation and then ease the muscles.
- Pain medications can dull the pain of sciatica, while anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or napoxen) can help with the inflammation causing sciatica pain.
- If no home treatments are working to relieve the pain, it is worth talking to your back specialist about steroid injections to relieve the inflammation. This treatment lasts longer than other medications and may allow patients to continue with physical therapies that can help to relieve pain in the long term.
- If the prior treatments do not yield any benefits, surgical options are available. This treatment is especially effective in those patients whose symptoms result from a specific disc herniation.
Sciatica can be a real pain in the leg. There are many options to help. Find what treatment works for you!