Sciatica | Understanding Sciatic Nerve Pain
All of the nerves in the human body connect to the spine. When one of the nerves entering the spine becomes pinched or irritated, it can cause radiating pain and discomfort in other parts of the body. This phenomenon, when it appears in the lumbar spine, is often called sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy. In today’s post, we’ll discuss why some people suffer from sciatic nerve pain, and how the physicians at Pontchartrain Orthopedics & Sports Medicine treat it.
What is Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the lower body caused by damage or irritation to the sciatic nerve or contributing nerves from the lumbar spine. This pain starts in the lower back and can radiate into the buttocks and down the leg. The pain is often accompanied by numbness, weakness, and tingling, and is usually experienced in just one leg. Those suffering from sciatic nerve irritation may find that their discomfort worsens while sitting, twisting, or laying down.
"Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the lower body caused by damage or irritation to the sciatic nerve or contributing nerves from the lumbar spine."
Sciatic Nerve Pain as a Symptom
Sciatica itself is not a medical condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. Some conditions that could cause sciatic nerve damage include:
While all of these conditions can cause sciatic nerve pain, patients may also experience other symptoms that are associated with the root cause of their lumbar pain. Once the source of the pain is determined, sciatic nerve pain and any other accompanying symptoms can be treated.
Some people are more likely than others to experience sciatica. Those with a previous injury to the lumbar spine might find themselves developing sciatic pain later in life. Patients who are older, overweight, or inactive may also be at increased risk of developing this symptom. Pregnant women commonly experience sciatic pain as their ligaments loosen and pressure increases on the lumbar spine. Poor posture can also increase your risk of developing lower back pain. Finally, patients suffering from diabetes or osteoarthritis are more likely to develop degenerative spinal issues, leading to sciatic nerve damage.
“Patients who are older, overweight, or inactive may also be at increased risk of developing this symptom.”
Treatment for sciatica varies depending on the cause of the nerve’s irritation. Many of these conditions can be treated with minimally-invasive procedures. Ultrasound guided injections allow physicians to deliver pain killing medication directly to the root of the sciatic nerve, relieving lumbar nerve discomfort. Sciatic nerve pain can also be treated using anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Spinal cord stimulator implants are also proven to help relieve pain in the lumbar spine. In severe cases, surgery may be required to treat this symptom.
Why see a specialist?
Don’t assume that your lumbar pain will go away with time. To the contrary, sciatica is often the early signal of a degenerative disease. It’s crucial to diagnose the source of this pain early. Doing so could greatly improve your quality of life and possibly help you avoid future spinal surgery.
Suffering from sciatic Nerve Pain?
Are you experiencing pain in the lower body that you believe is associated with sciatica? If so, don’t hesitate to call Pontchartrain Orthopedics & Sports Medicine to set up an appointment. Our specialists are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of sciatic pain and its associated conditions. Call today to set up an appointment with Dr. Collins and get on the road to recovery.
About the Doctor
Michael J. Collins, MD, is a Fellowship trained spine surgeon with Pontchartrain Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Dr. Collins grew up in Kenner, LA. He graduated valedictorian of Jesuit High School and Summa Cum Laude from Louisiana State University. He then attended medical school at LSU New Orleans and went on to do his Orthopedic Surgery Residency at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. He then completed an Orthopedic and Neurological Spine Surgery Fellowship at the University of Southern California. Dr. Collins is skilled in both traditional and minimally invasive approaches to the spine. He is also a certified user of the MazorX Stealth and Excelsius Spinal Robots.
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