Sciatica is one of the most common complaints when it comes to low back pain. Many people confuse it for other back conditions, which is why it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis you can trust. TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine offer the latest technology in diagnosing and treating sciatica. When you work with our spinal specialists, we’ll get to the bottom of your pain so you can start feeling better – faster.
Sciatica isn’t a specific back condition, but a symptom of an issue in the low back. It refers to pain that goes along the path of the sciatic nerve. The nerve travels from your lower back and down each leg. Pain can be mild to severe and interfere with your daily activities.
Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched from a lumbar spine (lower back) condition such as:
The most common symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates down one side of your hip, buttock and leg. This pain can include:
- Discomfort along the nerve
- Muscle weakness on the affected side
- Numbness or tingling on the affected side
- Pain from the low back to thigh and calf
- Pain that feels like a sudden, sharp jolt
- Pain that gets worse when sitting for a long time
- Pain that worsens when coughing or sneezing
Sciatica generally doesn’t require surgery. Your doctor will recommend treatment options to address your pain. Lifestyle changes can also help relieve pain caused by sciatica, such as switching to an anti-inflammatory diet and starting a home exercise program.
Other conservative treatment options include:
- Physical therapy – A physical therapist can provide strengthening exercise to improve strength and stability along your spine, increase flexibility and reduce your pain. They can also offer suggestions on modifying daily activities to relieve symptoms.
- Acupuncture – Thin needles are inserted into specific spots along the spine to trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, helping reduce pain.
- Injections – Injections, such as epidural steroid injections or medial branch blocks, target the area that is causing back pain and directly delivers medicine to reduce pain or swelling.
- Massage – Medical massage therapy can help reduce inflammation, ease pain and provide relief from certain back conditions. Your doctor may recommend massage therapy along with other sciatica treatments.
- Meditation – Mindfulness strategies, like meditation, may help ease stress and relieve pain by shifting focus away from low back pain. Mediation can be part of a holistic treatment approach, along with other therapies supervised by your doctor.
- Medicine – Over-the-counter and prescription medicine can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and address other symptoms caused by sciatica.
If sciatica is still interfering with your daily life after conservative treatment, your doctor may discuss surgical options. TriHealth delivers the latest advances in spinal surgery, including:
- Microdiscectomy – This outpatient procedure removes a tiny bit of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Laminectomy – More complex than a microdiscectomy, a laminectomy removes part or all of the back of vertebrae and thickened tissue around vertebrae to allow more room for the spinal cord. This helps relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Decompression and fusion surgery – During this procedure, your surgeon will remove small pieces of the vertebrae to relieve pressure on nerves and then fuse one or more vertebrae to prevent future problems.
Sciatica risk factors
You may be at risk for sciatica if you:
- Are older
- Are obese or overweight
- Have a job that requires you to frequently bend, twist or lift heavy objects
- Sit for long periods
- Have diabetes
Reduce your risk of developing sciatica:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Strengthen back and core muscles
- Eat healthy foods
- Lift heavy objects with your legs
- Use good posture
Make an appointment
Our spinal specialists are here to help you get stronger and return to good health. Get to the bottom of what’s causing your sciatica. To learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.