Sciatica is a distinctive type of lower back pain that can interfere with your ability to stand, walk, and sit. Without the right treatment, sciatica can put limitations on your life and undermine its quality.
As a spine expert, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, knows how distracting sciatica pain can be. He offers the latest nonsurgical and surgical treatment options to relieve the root cause of your pain and improve the health of your spine.
Within your lumbar (lower) spine is the sciatic nerve. This nerve travels from your lower back, down into your buttocks, hips, legs, and feet providing these areas of sensation.
When an injury or abnormality presses on the sciatic nerve, it leads to shock-like back pain sensations with your movements. This pain can radiate anywhere along the sciatic nerve and usually affects only one side of your body at a time.
In addition to pain, persistent pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness from your lower back down into your feet. This can make it difficult to walk, stand, or sit for an extended period of time.
Pressure on your sciatic nerve can be the result of the natural aging process. As the structures in your lower spine wear down, they can squeeze the sciatic nerve and trigger your symptoms.
Other common causes of sciatica-related pain include:
For pregnant women, a growing baby can also press down on the sciatic nerve causing pain that worsens toward the end of pregnancy.
The goals of the treatment options Dr. Bo offers are to resolve your existing pain and prevent new flare-ups of sciatica.
Initially, you may benefit from oral medications to ease pain and inflammation. If these medicines aren’t enough, Dr. Bo can inject steroids directly into your spine near your sciatic nerve. Steroids provide long-term relief of inflammation and give your body time to heal.
The injection may also contain an anesthetic that numbs your sciatic nerve to prevent pain signals from traveling to your brain. Injections can quickly improve your spinal mobility, so you can engage in daily exercise to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve and inflammation naturally.
Physical therapy can also restore your muscle strength to make walking and other activities less painful. During therapy, you learn exercises you can do to support your lower spine and reduce your risk for sciatica and other lumbar spine-related pain.
Chronic sciatica describes pain that’s persistent and lasts for longer than three months. When non-surgical therapies can’t relieve your pain, Dr. Bo can determine if you’re a candidate for surgery.
Surgery is typically a treatment option for removing a bone spur or a damaged spinal disc. If you have instability in your spine due to age-related degeneration, Dr. Bo can perform a spinal fusion surgery using a bone graft, rods, and screws to stabilize the spinal column and reduce your risk for repeated sciatica pain.
Physical activity is an essential preventive for sciatica. By engaging in physical activity and stretching every day, even low-impact exercise like walking, you can boost your blood circulation and build strong muscles to support your spine.
When involved in strenuous physical activity, like lifting heavy objects, be sure to support the lift with your legs rather than bending over at the back.
Be aware of your posture, too. When sitting or standing, sit up straight and tall. If you have to sit for long periods of time at work, invest in a supportive chair, and take frequent breaks to get up and walk around.
Finally, stay on track with a healthy diet. Cut out processed foods and replace them with more fresh foods. Not only does a good diet improve your spine health, it also helps you maintain a healthy weight to prevent sciatica.
If sciatica pain or weakness in your lower back and legs is keeping you down, schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Bo. You can call The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office nearest you or request an appointment through the online booking feature today.