Understanding Sciatica

sciatica-pressSciatica is a medical condition that affects many people. It brings about pain that emanates from your lumbar spine down to the buttocks and the backs of the legs. The main symptom is discomfort along the nerves in these areas, with pain most likely traveling from your lower back and as far down to your calf.

Pain from sciatica can vary from a mild discomfort to a sharp, excruciating pain. In some instances, it can even feel like a jolt of electricity. Pain from sciatica can worsen when you sneeze or cough or when you are sitting for a prolonged period of time. Also, it tends to affect a single side of the body than both. There may also be a sensation of tingling or numbness in the leg or foot.

For most people, mild sciatica will go away on its own over time. However, if your pain lasts for longer than a week or your pain increases, you should immediately seek medical care.

There are a few causes of sciatica.

These include pregnancy, being overweight, not exercising on a regular basis and being too sedentary and wearing high heels. In general, the condition can occur when the sciatic nerve is pinched, usually by a herniated disk in the spine or due to a bone spur on the vertebrae. On rare occasions, it can also develop because of a tumor on the nerve or because the nerve is damaged by diseases like diabetes.

Most people can recover from sciatica over time, even without treatment. It also affects different people in different ways. For instance, while one person may experience debilitating pain, another may only have an occasional ache that vanishes and returns once in a while. However, sciatica can still lead to permanent nerve damage. It’s important to seek medical attention if you have any of the following problems: loss of bladder or bowel function, loss of feeling in the affected leg or weakness in the affected leg.

Treatment options available for individuals with sciatica.

Around 10 to 15 percent of those affected may require some type of surgery to alleviate their pain. Most people affected by sciatica, however, are able to find relief by using certain medications, including those that are over the counter. Muscle relaxants and cold or heat packs may also help. Cortisone injections are another common form of treatment to alleviate the pain associated with sciatica.

Doctors can diagnosis sciatica by relying on a few methods. First, you will have a physical exam in which your reflexes and muscle strength is checked. The doctor may ask you to walk a certain way, squat or lift your legs one at a time while lying down. Pain typically worsens during these activities, which signifies you may have sciatica.

The doctor may also take an X-ray of your spine and have imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI performed to get a better look at your spine. Another test commonly performed to diagnose sciatica is an electromyography or EMG, which measures electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the way your muscles respond as a result.

If you have been diagnosed with sciatica and are looking for relief, contact the office of Dr. Jeffrey M. Epstein at your earliest convenience. You will be scheduled for a consultation and will be on your way to eliminating your pain and restoring your peace of mind.