Simply put, sciatica is a symptom of the sciatic nerve being damaged or pressured for any reason. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower spine and travels through your hips and bottom, down the back of the thigh, through parts of the lower leg, and into the foot. Sciatica will usually affect one side of the body.
However, the pain sciatica can cause debilitating for some, making standing or sitting nearly impossible. The pain might feel like a bad cramp or could feel like a sharp knife tearing down your buttocks and leg. Sometimes it can feel like tingling, burning, or a dull ache.
Sciatica is common in the United States with over 3 million cases per year. Treatments for sciatica can vary depending on the cause and severity of pain. Even in cases where the pain is severe, mostly it will resolve without surgery and with alternative treatments within a few weeks. However, those who have a severe weakness in their legs or are suffering from bowel and bladder changes might benefit from surgery.
What Causes Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve can be aggravated for many reasons. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disc that causes pressure on one or more of the lower spinal nerves, therefore, “pinching” the nerve. Other common causes are:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Sudden injury, trauma or accident
- Other health issues, such as tumors or infection
- Obesity, sitting for most of the day, poor posture, advanced age, and diabetes are all common risk factors associated with sciatica.
What Are the Treatments?
The goal of treatment for sciatica is to decrease pain and increase movement. A treatment plan will include rest, physical therapy, and medicine. Most find relief after about six weeks of alternative treatment. However, after a combination of conservative treatments have been exhausted, there are minimally invasive surgical options available. Dr. Douglas Won of Minimally Invasive SpineCARE offers state of the art minimally invasive methods to allow you a faster recovery time and pain relief.
Dr. Rebeccca Stachniak is a board certified Neurological Spine Surgeon and Medical Director of the Brain & Spine Center of Texas. Dr. Stachniak is part of the faculty at Medtronic as a teaching physician, teaching other spine surgeons on techniques in spine surgery. Having authored many papers, posters, and presentations for major Neurosurgical and Spine related conferences, Dr. Stachniak is highly sought after and regarded around the world speaking at international conferences. Named Top10MD in 2016 – an honor only 1-in-3 doctors succeeds with in the United States. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Stachniak, click on her profile or call her office at 972.943.9779.