If you experience lower back or leg pain, you may have come across the term “sciatica.” While some may believe it to be a condition, sciatica is actually a number of symptoms. But what causes sciatic nerve pain and what can you do to relieve it? We are here to answer those exact questions.
What Is Sciatica?
In the diagram below, you can see where the sciatic nerve runs down the spine before branching off down the leg. Pressure placed on the sciatic nerve causes discomfort and pain. Most patients characterize their sciatica as a sharp pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back or leg. Not every patient or injury is the same; as such patients may experience different sensations depending on where nerve compression occurs.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Sciatica usually occurs after a a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine presses against the nerve roots. This is typically the most common cause of sciatic nerve pain, but sciatica may also be a symptom of other spinal conditions. For example, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or a pinched nerve may also result in the patient experiencing sciatica. Other conditions such as tumors or pregnancy may cause sciatica but is typically rare.
Sciatica During Pregnancy:
As we have already mentioned, sciatic pain is typically caused by lumbar spine problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc. During pregnancy sciatica due to a herniated disc isn’t all too common. However, sciatic-like symptoms are. These usually manifest as low back pain. A 2011 study suggests that an estimated 50 percent of women experience lower back pain during their pregnancies.
Muscle tension and unstable joints may also lead to sciatic-like symptoms. These may include:
Pregnancy hormones like relaxin causes your ligaments to stretch and become weaker. Additionally, the baby’s weight can add to the stress placed on your pelvis and hip.
How Is Sciatic Nerve Pain Treated?
Sciatica, for some, may improve and go away with time. For others, however, sciatic nerve pain must be treated. You can relieve unnecessary stress by doing the following:
- 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. Should this be the case, at Metropolitan Pain Consultants we offer both traditional spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and BurstDR stimulation. These stimulators are proven to help with chronic pain in the neck, back, arms, and legs.
When we feel pain, it is because our brain is picking up pain signals sent by nerves to indicate something is wrong. Stimulators alter these signals to remove pain from reaching the brain. BurstDR stimulation takes this a step further and reduces pain by mimicking the way the brain deals with pain. This negates pain signals being transmitted.
Regenerative medicine is a surgical alternative that uses the patient’s own blood or stem cells to boost the natural regenerative process found within the body. PRP uses blood platelets to do so and BMC uses stem cells from the patient’s hip.
Both outpatient procedures are done within our clinic and take less than an hour. A doctor removes a blood sample (similar to a routine blood test) and places the sample in a centrifuge. Here, the sample is spun and its layers are separated. One of our doctors will inject the PRP or stem cells into the injured site and the regenerative process begins. Since regenerative medicine uses the patient’s own factors to heal, 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.