When to Suspect that You Might Be Suffering from Sciatica
Sciatica is a pain typically felt at one side of the body – it’s a lower back pain that travels to the buttocks and to the lower leg. Sciatica is caused by the pain from the sciatic nerve in the body undergoing nerve compression either in part or in whole.
Sciatica pain is characterized by a wide variety of pain experienced, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation, and even unbearable pain. A jolt-like sensation may also be felt in this kind of condition.
Coughing, sneezing, and prolonged sitting can also exacerbate the pain experienced. Swelling in the affected leg may also be a sign of sciatica nerve pain, especially if it’s caused by a slipped disc.
It may be differentiated from a hip problem in that a hip problem like arthritis in the hip involves groin pain. Pain from hip problems is also exacerbated by putting on weight on the leg and moving your legs around.
Sciatica: When to Seek Help from Gramercy Pain Center
Mild sciatica may potentially go away on its own or can be helped managed by over-the-counter drugs and home remedies like putting warm compresses and ice packs over the affected area and stretching your muscles.
These may be done within 6 weeks; however, if the leg pain doesn’t go away after trying these conservative measures such that it becomes chronic pain or if severe pain becomes totally unbearable, then it’s now time to consider going to a pain management specialist, preferably from Gramercy Pain Center since we’re experts on this field.
Other warning signs that you should look out for that warrant you going to the doctor include the following:
- Leg muscle weakness or numbness;
- Pain following a traffic accident or any other traumatic experience;
- Urinating and passing stools suddenly became harder for you.
How We Can Help Manage Sciatica at Gramercy Pain Center
At Gramercy Pain Center, we first ascertain the diagnosis of the condition before we proceed with treatment. We do so by careful taking of your medical history and performing physical examination procedures.
Physical examination procedures include the straight leg test where we will ask you to lie down and we will raise your legs to pinpoint where your pain starts. We may also ask you to walk on tiptoes to check your calf muscle strength or do other stretching tasks to also know where the pain begins as well as to check for the flexibility and strength of your muscles.
We may also ask you to undergo other tests to check if the sciatica pain is due to other conditions like herniated discs and bone spur, especially if your pain is intolerable and non-improving. These tests include the following:
- CT scan
- Electromyography (EMG)
For sciatica treatment, we may prescribe to our patient drugs that may help provide sciatic pain relief. Classes of drugs that we may prescribe include anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants.
With the guidance of our expert sciatica specialists Ajay Varma, MD, DABA, DABAPM, and Ali Valimahomed, MD, we offer physical therapy rehabilitation programs to prevent exacerbation of sciatica symptoms and to prevent the recurrence of injury.
This interventional pain management program involves exercises that aim to make you observe proper posture, and improve muscle strength and flexibility.
Another treatment option that we offer is the epidural steroid injection which involves administration of corticosteroids in the area of the affected nerve root. This procedure helps decrease the pain around the irritated nerve by reducing the inflammatory response associated with this irritation, although it isn’t permanent and lasts only months.
FAQs About Sciatica and Management
Q: What puts you at risk of getting sciatica?
A: Patients can develop sciatica through the following risk factors:
- Age - Degenerative diseases of the spine like herniated discs and bone spur are typically associated with sciatica pain. These diseases are typically associated and increase in occurrence with increasing age.
- Increased weight - Being overweight and obese predispose a patient into sciatica because of the added load that an additional weight gives to the spine. These spinal changes contribute to the development of sciatica.
- Sedentary lifestyle - Someone who sits all day or has a sedentary lifestyle is more prone to developing sciatica than those with an active lifestyle.
- Diabetes mellitus - The chance of developing nerve damage is increased by diabetes mellitus, a condition in which sugar processing in the body is impaired.
Q: Are pregnant women more prone to sciatica?
A: Yes, and this is caused mainly by change in hormones, although increased weight from the baby and its position during pregnancy also plays a role.
Hormonal changes in pregnant women cause the ligaments to loosen up and they’re unable to adequately stabilize the back of a pregnant woman, causing slipped discs that may cause pain due to a pinched nerve and, ultimately, the development of sciatica.
The sciatica pain associated with pregnancy goes away after the pregnancy, though, especially when combined with physical therapy, heat compresses, and pain medications that are safe for pregnancy. Encouraging pregnant women to observe proper posture also helps.
Q: When do you consider surgery for sciatica?
A: Surgery is the least of the options to consider when having sciatica. Conservative measures like physical therapy and corticosteroid injections are more often considered.
However, if the pain doesn’t improve with these conservative measures, becomes unbearable, or you’ve experienced other signs and symptoms like weakness and poor control of urination and passing stools, then it’s time to consider sciatica surgery, especially because this might be due to bone spur or slipped disc that are compressing a nerve.
Get the Best Sciatica Management from Experienced Professionals at Gramercy Pain Center
At Gramercy Pain Center, we offer effective and safe sciatica pain management guided by Ajay Varma, MD, DABA, DABAPM, and Ali Valimahomed, MD. Save yourself from the stress of having to endure sciatica pain by entrusting your pain problems to professionals who can certainly help improve your condition. Leave your pain problems to us and visit our pain clinic near you or contact us to book a consultation.
Dr. Valimahomed really cares and is very proactive in reducing pain! I am thrilled!
Dr. Varma is a tough cookie, very stern but listens to me and cares about my well being.
Dr. Varma is a great caring person and doctor.
Great doctor, very attentive.
Wonderful experience with Dr. V!
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