Sciatica Pain Relief
Sciatica pain is caused by irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression of a nerve in the lower back. The most common cause is a herniated or slipped disk that causes pressure on the nerve root. Most people with sciatica get better on their own with time and self-care treatments. But sometimes the pain may be excruciating that you will inevitably need to seek sciatica pain relief Woodstock.
Sciatic nerve pain can be so excruciating and debilitating that you don’t even want to get off the couch. You probably know more than one person with this condition, as it is relatively common with a lifetime incidence of 10 to 40 percent.
The sciatic nerve begins at your lower back, your hips, and your buttocks, going down each of your legs and bending at the knees. Sciatica pain happens when there is a problem anywhere along this pathway.
Common causes of sciatica can include:
- a ruptured disk
- narrowing of the spine canal (called spinal stenosis)
Sciatic pain can also happen due to a condition called piriformis syndrome. Your piriformis muscle extends from your buttocks at the edge of your spine all the way to the top of your thigh. Sometimes this muscle can spasm and trap the sciatic nerve, which is located nearby. This can result in sciatic pain.
Sciatica pain can occur due to a variety of reasons. Identifying what does not move is the first step toward solving the problem. Often, the most problematic body parts are the lower back and hips.
As many as 4 out of every 10 people will get sciatica, or irritation of the sciatic nerve, at some point in their life. This nerve comes from either side of the lower spine and travels through the pelvis and buttocks. Then the nerve passes along the back of each upper leg before it divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet.
Anything that puts pressure on or irritates this nerve can cause pain that shoots down the back of one buttock or thigh. The sensation of pain can vary widely. Sciatica may feel like a mild ache; a sharp, burning sensation; or extreme discomfort. Sciatica can also cause feelings of numbness, weakness, and tingling.
Pain may be made worse by prolonged standing up, sitting, sneezing, coughing, lifting, twisting, or straining. Sciatic pain treatment Woodstock ranges from hot and cold packs and medications to exercises and complementary and alternative remedies.
During the physical examination, your doctor may check your muscle strength and reflexes. For example, you may be asked to rise from a squatting position, walk on your toes or heels, and lift your legs one at a time while lying on your back. Pain that results from sciatica will usually worsen during these activities.
Many people have herniated disks or bone spurs that will show up on X-rays and other imaging tests but have no symptoms. So, doctors don’t typically order these tests unless your pain is severe, or it doesn’t improve within a few weeks. These tests will help in finding the appropriate sciatica pain relief Woodstock for you.
- X-ray – An X-ray of your spine may reveal an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) that may be pressing on a nerve.
- MRI – This procedure uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images of your back. An MRI produces detailed images of bone and soft tissues such as herniated disks. During the test, you lie on a table that moves into the MRI machine.
- CT scan – When a CT is used to image the spine, you may have a contrast dye injected into your spinal canal before the X-rays are taken — a procedure called a CT myelogram. The dye then circulates around your spinal cord and spinal nerves, which appear white on the scan.
- Electromyography (EMG) – This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. It can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
If your pain does not improve with self-care measures, your doctor might suggest some of the following treatments.
The types of drugs that might be prescribed for sciatica pain include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-seizure medications
- Tricyclic antidepressants
b) Physical Therapy for Sciatica
Once your acute pain improves, your doctor or a physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help you prevent future injuries. This typically includes exercises to correct your posture, strengthen the muscles supporting your back and improve your flexibility.
Sciatica pain may make it difficult to be active. But bed rest is not recommended as a mainstay treatment. To manage new sciatica pain, you may find that certain positions and activities are more comfortable than others.
If symptoms are not severe but persist beyond a couple of weeks, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The proper exercises may actually help provide sciatica pain relief Woodstock. They can also provide conditioning to help prevent the pain from coming back.
The exercises recommended will depend on the cause of sciatica. Further, it is important to work with a specialist who has experience working with people with sciatica. It is also important to do the exercises exactly as directed.
To get the proper direction, you’ll most likely work with one of the following specialists:
- Physical therapist
- Physiatrist – a doctor who specializes in physical medicine
c) Steroid Injections
In some cases, your doctor might recommend an injection of a corticosteroid medication into the area around the involved nerve root. Corticosteroids help reduce pain by suppressing inflammation around the irritated nerve.
The effects usually wear off in a few months. The number of steroid injections you can receive is limited because the risk of serious side effects increases when the injections occur too frequently.
This option is usually reserved for when the compressed nerve causes significant weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or when you have pain that progressively worsens or does not improve with other therapies. Surgeons can remove the bone spur or the portion of the herniated disk that is pressing on the pinched nerve.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
For most people, sciatica responds to self-care measures. While resting for a day or so may provide some relief, prolonged inactivity will make your signs and symptoms worse.
Other self-care treatments that might help include:
- Cold packs – Initially, you might get pain relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel.
- Hot packs – After two to three days, apply heat to the areas that hurt. Use hot packs, a heat lamp, or a heating pad on the lowest setting. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs.
- Stretching – Stretching exercises for your low back can help you feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing, or twisting during the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Over-the-counter medications – Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can sometimes offer sciatica pain relief Woodstock.
Alternative therapies commonly used for low back pain include:
- Chiropractic Care – Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function and decrease pain. Spinal manipulation appears to be as effective and safe as standard treatments for low back pain, but might not be appropriate for radiating pain.
- Acupuncture – In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts hair-thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture can help back pain, while others have found no benefit. If you decide to try acupuncture, choose a licensed practitioner to ensure that he or she has had extensive training and expertise.
Preparing For Your Appointment
Not everyone who has sciatica needs medical treatment. However, if your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a month, make an appointment with your doctor.
What You Can Do
- Write down your symptoms and when they began.
- Note recent accidents or injuries that might have damaged your back.
- List key medical information, including other conditions you have and the names of medications, vitamins, or supplements you take.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what your doctor tells you.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your appointment.
For radiating low back pain, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of my back pain?
- Are there other possible causes?
- Do I need diagnostic tests?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- If you are recommending medications, what are the possible side effects?
- For how long will I need to take medication?
- Am I a candidate for surgery? Why or why not?
- Are there restrictions I need to follow?
- What self-care measures should I take?
- What can I do to prevent my symptoms from recurring?
Don’t hesitate to ask more questions.
What To Expect From Your Doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions, including:
- Do you have numbness or weakness in your legs?
- How limiting is your pain?
- Do certain body positions or activities make your pain better or worse?
- Do you do heavy physical work?
- Do you exercise regularly? If yes, with what types of activities?
- What treatments or self-care measures have you tried? Has anything helped?
Sciatica Pain Relief
If you’re suffering from sciatica, doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other specialists at Advanced Health Solutions – GA Spine & Disc can offer you treatment to help you find sciatica pain relief Woodstock that you need.
Call us today at (770) 212-3991 or contact us online to book your appointment now.
Sciatica Pain Relief