Sciatica is a fairly well-spread and common symptom. It can be a pain, tingling, or numbness produced by nerve root irritation that leads to the sciatic nerve. Nerve roots come out of the spinal cord in the lower back. In the diagram below you can see where it goes through the buttock, then extends down the leg to the ankle and foot. While it is quite common, there are also various misconceptions surrounding sciatica, why it occurs, and how to find relief.
What Causes Sciatica?
If you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain, it may be due to a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine pressing against the nerve roots. This is the most common cause of sciatica. However, sciatica may be a symptom of other conditions that affect the spine. Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), bone spurs (bony growths along the joints), arthritis, or a pinched nerve (nerve root compression). Other conditions such as tumors or pregnancy may cause sciatica, but they are rare.
What are the Symptoms?
Typically, it is weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg that begins in your back or buttock and travels down towards the foot. However, the sciatica experience differs from patient to patient. Usually only on one side of the body, patients feel different types of pain depending on the location of the nerve compression. While less common, a burning or prickly feeling may also be associated with sciatica.
As with any other pain or condition, the duration and severity varies from patient to patient. To some, sciatic pain may be a mild irritant but to others it is severe and debilitating.
- Standing or sitting for a long time, as well as movements that cause the spine to flex, may cause symptoms to worsen
- On the other hand, lying down, walking, spine extensions may relieve symptoms
How is Sciatica Treated?
Some patients note that sciatica improves and goes away with time. However, there are cases where sciatic nerve pain must be treated. To begin, you can help relieve pain by:
- Unless it is more comfortable than standing, avoid sitting
- Try to increase your walking distance each day as walking may reduce pain
- Over the course of two to three hours, use a heating pad for 15 to 20 minute intervals
Spinal Cord Stimulation:
Sciatica may become chronic if left untreated. For chronic pain, we offer both tradition spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and BurstDR stimulation. Both forms require minimally invasive surgery, but are proven to help those with chronic pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs.
BurstDR, a St. Jude Medical technology, is state of the art in chronic pain management. The therapy offers a unique way of mimicking natural brain patterns in order to negate pain signals being transmitted to the brain. With this new therapy, doctors are addressing both physical and emotional pain in ways not previously available.
We offer two forms of regenerative medicine for sciatica: platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow concentrate (BMC). Both surgical alternatives use the patient’s own blood to boost the natural regenerative processes found within the body. The former focuses on using blood platelets and the latter uses pluripotent stem cells from the patient’s hip.
The procedures begin with a doctor removing a blood sample (similar to a normal blood test). Following this, the blood is centrifuged and its various layers separated. A doctor injects the sample into the injured site and the regenerative process begins. Since PRP and BMC use the patient’s own bodily fluids, it is extremely safe.
If you think you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain, contact us at 201.729.0001. Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you and discussing possible options. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.