What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain that runs through the sciatic nerve pathway. This nerve travels from the lower back to the hip and often radiates down the back of the leg. This condition is quite common among those with low back pain.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Person experiencing low back pain
- Pain in the lower back, glutes, or pain down the leg
- Weakness of numbness in the lower back or leg
- Loss of bladder control
- Pins and needles in legs or feet
Can Sciatica Cause Knee Pain?
Another symptoms of Sciatica is knee pain. If you have knee pain from sciatica, you may experience sharp or dull knee pain. Additionally it may be difficult to put weight on the knee and you may have weakness when extending the knee.
What Causes Sciatica?
Person experiencing pain from a herniated disc
Sciatica is usually triggered by a herniated disc or bone spur that presses on the sciatic nerve. Injuries that cause inflammation, irritation or pinching of this nerve can also trigger sciatica.
Conservative Treatments for Sciatica
If your pain is not severely affecting your life or work, conservative treatments should be performed first.
Hot / Cold Therapy
applying ice or heat to the low back can reduce inflammation and compression on the nerve, in turn reliving the pain of sciatica.
Taking Anti-Inflammatory Medications
over the counter medications (NSAID’s) such as ibuprofen, Advil or Aleve can help reduce inflammation as well.
Safely performing stretches for the low back can help relieve pressure on the nerve. Strengthening the glutes and abdomen has also been shown to help with low back pain. Consult a physical therapist for proper stretches for low back pain.
Other Treatments for Sciatica
If your pain persists with conservative treatments, more aggressive forms of treatment may be necessary. Our back doctors in Nashville use the following types of treatment for sciatica:
Almost all patients are prescribed physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the low back. Physical therapy is important to learn stretches and exercises that will help longevity of managing your pain.
Injections of the Spine
A cortisol injection can be administered to help manage pain in the short term but is not effective for long-term pain management. Some patients experience a burning or tingling sensation when the injection of administered. Other injections such as epidural injections can be administered under anesthesia. Ask your back doctor if a cortisol or epidural injection is right for you.
Dry Needling is a form of alternative medicine that can help manage pain in the short term. There is no known or proven reason why dry needling helps relieve some patients’ pain but can be a great option for patients wanting to avoid more aggressive treatments.
What Does Sciatica Feel Like?
Most people experience a shocking sensation running on the lower back and down the back of their leg. However, symptoms vary from person to person.
What Kinds of Doctors Treat Sciatica?
An orthopedic doctor can treat lower back problems. Doctors who specialize in surgery of the spine have additional training in back pain and will be able to efficiently treat sciatic nerve issues.
When Should You Seek Help From a Doctor for Sciatica?
If you are experiencing symptoms after a few days, or your symptoms worsen, seek help from a back doctor.
If you are experiencing severe pain, or loss of feeling in your legs, seek medical attention immediately.
Does Sciatica Require Surgery?
If conservative treatments to relieve pain from sciatica fail, more invasive procedures may be required. Our back doctors in Nashville, TN always try conservative treatments before recommending back surgery. The good news is, 80-90 percent of people with sciatica do not require surgery.
If surgery is a must, our spine doctors focus on minimally invasive spine surgery whenever possible.
Our Middle Tennessee Back Doctors
Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics has 2 surgeons who specialize in surgery of the spine. Both Dr. Chris Glattes and Dr. Colin Crosby are fellowship-trained and have extensive experience dealing with conditions such as Sciatica.