What Exactly is Sciatica and How Can I Treat It?

What Exactly is Sciatica and How Can I Treat It?

Sciatica is a common issue among Americans. It’s estimated that 40% of adults will experience sciatica complications during their lifetime. For some, these complications can be severe and even debilitating.

At The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. Experienced spine surgeon Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, also provides resources to keep your spine healthy to prevent sciatica from returning.

What to know about sciatica

Sciatica describes pain that results from pressure or an injury to the sciatic nerve. This large nerve runs from your lower spine down through your hips and into both legs.

Pressure on the sciatic nerve can come from several sources. You might be at increased risk for sciatica if you have:

Age-related changes in your spine can also irritate and inflame the sciatic nerve. Pregnant women may also experience sciatica symptoms as their baby grows and their uterus expands.

What sciatica feels like

Sciatica symptoms may start out mild and gradually worsen over time. The most common symptom is shock-like pain that occurs in your lower back with sudden movements, such as a cough, laugh, or sneeze. This pain can range from mild to severe and ultimately affect your mobility.

You may also experience symptoms like:

In some, sciatica symptoms may appear occasionally, especially if you play sports or participate in other strenuous activities. You might also experience shocks of back pain if you slouch in your seat or sit for extended periods of time.

As inflammation in the sciatic nerve continues, your pain and other symptoms may become more persistent. Some people with chronic sciatica may not be able to stand or walk easily due to the pain.

Solutions to relieve sciatica

When your sciatica symptoms are mild, you can benefit from over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, rest, and heat or ice therapy. You might also benefit from physical therapy and engaging in at-home exercises that stretch your spine and take the pressure off your sciatic nerve.

Regular exercise also improves blood circulation, so your nerves and surrounding tissues can heal naturally. Additionally, physical activity is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight to prevent unnecessary pressure on your spinal nerves.

When your sciatica is severe, Dr. Bo might recommend injections of steroid medications. He delivers the medications directly into your lower spine near the roots of your sciatic nerve to provide long-lasting relief of inflammation.

When surgery is appropriate for sciatica

If nonsurgical strategies aren’t working well, you may need surgery. Dr. Bo uses minimally invasive spine surgery techniques to remove a herniated disc or bone spur that’s pressing on your sciatic nerve.

Surgery is typically a last-resort option for sciatica treatment and Dr. Bo will discuss all options available to you, so you can make the most informed decision about your health.

Call The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office near you to schedule a diagnostic evaluation for sciatic symptoms or book an appointment online today. 

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