How Do You Treat Sciatica?
Compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve can disrupt everyday activities. This condition, known as sciatica, begins as simple lower back pain, but it can rapidly transform into a sharp shooting pain that runs all the way through your legs. The big question is, how do you treat sciatica so that you can maintain your current lifestyle pain-free?
Treatments for sciatica include a variety of home remedies, which may be effective in certain cases. However, when pain is caused by more serious issues like a herniated disk, a bone spur, or spinal stenosis, home remedies are often not enough. If you are experiencing severe or chronic symptoms of sciatica, see your pain doctor in New York or pain doctor in New Jersey for more advanced treatment options.
What Causes Sciatica?
There are a number of ways your sciatic nerve can become compressed and irritated. Finding the underlying cause of your sciatica is important for choosing the appropriate treatment plan. Some of the most common issues include the following:
Slipped, Ruptured, or Herniated Disk – There are 26 vertebrae in your spine, and each is cushioned by a soft disk of material that has the consistency of jelly. These disks make it possible for your spine to bend and curve without the pain of bone against bone. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these protective disks to slip out of place, rupture, or become herniated. When that happens, there is pressure against surrounding nerves. This typically results in a compressed nerve, pinched nerve, or irritated nerve, which means you experience pain.
Bone Spur – Your bones have an extraordinary ability to heal themselves by building new bone. In the case of bone spurs, the process goes a little bit awry. Bone spurs are smooth, rounded bumps of bone that form on the ends of other bones. They frequently turn up in the joints after the area has been injured. Your body is attempting to repair damage to your joints or tendons by creating the new bump of bone, and most of the time, you don’t experience any negative effects. However, in some cases, the extra bone can press against nerves. If this occurs in the spine near the sciatic nerve, you may experience symptoms of sciatica.
Spinal Stenosis – The vertebrae in your spine protect your spinal cord, which is a large bundle of nerves that send messages from your brain to the rest of your body – and vice versa. As you age, the opening that your spinal cord passes through can narrow, putting pressure on the nerves in your spinal cord. Depending on where the stenosis develops, you may feel symptoms of sciatica.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
There are many issues that cause lower back pain, so this symptom alone doesn’t necessarily indicate sciatica. However, it is important to be aware that sciatica typically begins with discomfort in your lower back. Some patients notice that instead of pain in this area, they start feeling an ache in one of their hips.
As the condition progresses, you may experience increasingly severe pain in the lower back, followed by shooting pain that travels all the way through your legs and sometimes into your feet. You may also feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs if the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated.
You may experience ongoing pain on one side of your rear, or you may only notice pain in your rear when you are sitting down. In some cases, the pain is particularly bad when you try to stand up, particularly after you have been sitting for a long period of time.
How Do You Treat Sciatica at Home?
Many people struggling with the pain of sciatica get relief with basic home remedies. One of the most effective ways to treat back pain is with a daily stretching routine. Your pain doctor can provide details on the types of stretches that work best for the specific pain you are experiencing.
Though exercise is often helpful in reducing inflammation, there are situations in which you might be better off with bed rest. If so, try three days off of your feet to give your irritated nerves a chance to heal. Hot and cold packs have been proven effective for getting back pain under control. Begin with cold packs several times a day for three days, then switch to hot packs for maximum relief.
Some people find success with a variety of alternative therapies. For example, in certain circumstances, yoga, acupuncture, and massage can ease your pain. Throughout your at-home treatment attempts, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers. Acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are often helpful. However, none of these medications are intended for long-term use, so be sure to speak with your pain doctor if you need them for more than a few days.
How Do You Treat Sciatica When Home Remedies Don’t Work?
Depending on the underlying cause of sciatica, home remedies may not be effective. Fortunately, your pain doctor in NY or pain doctor in NJ can offer a variety of additional treatment methods. For example, if at-home stretches aren’t working, you may need a more formal program.
Your pain doctor can refer you to a skilled physical therapist. These professionals assist with creating a customized routine of stretching and exercise, and they advise on your posture and other physical activity to ensure your condition doesn’t get worse.
Pain care professionals may also suggest more powerful medications, such as muscle relaxants and stronger anti-inflammatories. Certain tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline and a select few anti-seizure medications have also been shown to help with sciatic pain.
Your pain doctor may determine that steroid injections are the most effective method of treating your pain. In this case, medication is delivered directly to the irritated nerve to give you fast relief. Invasive surgery is a last-resort option, and very few patients need such drastic measures. A majority of individuals with sciatica get their pain under control with assistance from the experts at their pain treatment clinic.
The Board-Certified pain management physicians at Pain Treatment Specialists have answers when it comes to how do you treat sciatica. They are experts in relieving your pain, no matter what the cause. These doctors have received specialized training in the best methods of diagnosing underlying conditions that lead to discomfort, then resolving them with the most medically advanced treatments available. Schedule your initial consultation online or call the office today.