October 14, 2015
Sciatica: Symptoms and Non-Surgical Treatments
The Sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down the back of each leg. When this nerve is irritated, it causes pain that can range from occasionally annoying to severely debilitating.
You may experience sciatic pain in your lower back, upper legs and, in some cases, all the way down through your feet. Sciatica usually only presents on one side of your body, but it can be present in both. Whether your sciatica is caused by injury, arthritis, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or pregnancy, there are ways to address your pain. Learn to recognize the common sciatica symptoms so you can prevent your condition from worsening over time.
Common Sciatica Symptoms
The pain caused by sciatica may increase when you sit. It can also be a constant burning or tingling sensation that is not alleviated by changing position. Numbness, weakness, and movement or mobility issues may accompany the pain and have a significant impact on your life. Common sciatica symptoms to watch for include:
- Moderate to severe pain in the lower back or legs
- Difficulty sitting or standing for long periods
- Weakness or numbness in one or both feet
- Sudden, shooting pains that accompany changes in movement or position. Standing up from a seated position is particularly difficult for sciatica sufferers.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about the likelihood that you are suffering from sciatica. Your neurosurgeon will help you come up with a pain management strategy.
Sciatica Treatment Options
Many patients find they can get relief for their sciatica with the use of several non-surgical treatment options. Your pain management specialist can help you decide which treatment options are right for you.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help alleviate the pain caused by an aggravated or injured sciatic nerve. You may find that NSAIDS like ibuprofen taken twice daily can help alleviate your pain. Additional treatment may be required for more persistent, chronic sciatic pain. Always discuss your treatment plan with your spine surgeon before self-medicating.
Exercise and Stretching
The right combination of strengthening and stretching exercises can help ease the pain of sciatica by lessening the pressure caused by inflammation. Your pain management specialist can help you determine if exercise will benefit you, and then create a treatment plan designed to eliminate your pain. Consistently performing the prescribed exercises and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle can help combat sciatica and prevent recurrences.
When exercise and anti-inflammatories cease to alleviate your chronic pain, epidural injections may help. Epidural injections are steroid shots injected directly into the affected part of your spine. Steroids decrease the inflammation around your sciatic nerve and relieve the pain caused by that pressure.
Some patients report pain relief for up to a month after a steroid injection for sciatica. This method is only recommended as a short-term pain relief solution. Your neurosurgeon may prescribe a steroid injection for sciatica if you are suffering a particularly acute episode.
A steroid injection for sciatica may provide enough relief for you to begin a prescribed exercise and stretching program that will eliminate the pain more thoroughly.
If you have not found relief through non-surgical treatment options, surgery may be able to alleviate your sciatic pain. Your spine surgeon can help you decide which treatment plan is right for you and if sciatica surgery is required.
If you want to know more about steroid injections for sciatica in Arkansas, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 to schedule a consultation with one of our neurosurgeons.
*Photo by Protohiro through Wikimedia Commons