Symptoms and Treatment of Sciatica

The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness, or weakness—that originate in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.

Symptoms of sciatica are usually only felt in one leg. Although rare, symptoms can be present in both legs. Symptoms generally worsen when the patient is sitting. Common sciatica symptoms include pain that radiates through the buttock, down the back of the thigh, through the calf, and into the foot. Other sciatica symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pins and needles sensations. If sciatica is allowed to progress without treatment, muscular weakness and a loss of leg function may begin to appear.

When discussing sciatica, it is important to understand the underlying medical cause, as effective treatment will focus on addressing the pain’s root cause as well as alleviating acute symptoms. The following lower back problems are the most common causes of sciatica: lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or lumbar spinal stenosis.

The goals of nonsurgical sciatica treatments are to relieve pain and any neurological symptoms caused by a compressed nerve root. There is a broad range of options available for sciatica treatment such as heat/ice therapy, pain medications, massage therapy or epidural steroid injections. For most people, the good news is that sciatica typically gets better on its own, and the healing process usually will only take a few days or weeks.

Typically, it is reasonable to consider surgery for sciatica if severe leg pain has persisted for four to six weeks or there is a limitation in the patient’s ability to participate in everyday activities. Depending on the cause and duration of the sciatica pain, one of two general surgeries will typically be considered: microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy. If you are struggling with sciatica pain, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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