Sciatica is a condition that causes patients to experience pain within the sciatic nerves. These nerves extend from the lower back through the hips and buttock areas, and down each leg. In most cases, sciatica only impacts one side of the body.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. “Pinching” occurs due to a herniated disc in the spinal area, or due to an overgrowth of bone spurs on the vertebrae. In some rare cases, the nerves will be compressed by a tumor or damaged by a health condition, like diabetes.
Sciatica is defined by pain from the lower spine to the buttock area, and down the back of the legs. Patients will usually feel a great deal of discomfort, especially down their lower back to the buttocks, and to the back of the thighs and to the calf. The extent of a person’s pain can vary, from being mild to feeling like a sharp, burning sensation.
Sneezing, coughing, or sitting for long periods of time can also trigger sciatica. The condition is also occasionally triggered by traumatic injury, such as a traffic accident. Numbness within the leg can also aggravate the condition. The pain associated with sciatica can often last longer than one week, and may become progressively worse with time, especially if left untreated.
There are numerous ways to treat sciatica, though the condition is first treated with conservative measures. Conservative treatments will likely include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and narcotics. Corticosteroid injections significantly relieve the patient’s pain, and reduce inflammation at the irritated nerves. Several different rounds of injections may be necessary to improve serious side-effects. Steroid injections are a temporary solution for alleviating pain and discomfort.
Physical therapy is also highly-effective for treating sciatica. Physical therapy can improve injuries, as well as improve a patient’s strength, correct the patient’s posture, and strengthen the muscles within the back.
If conservative treatment measures fail, surgery may be necessary. Signs that these treatments have failed may include significant weakness, and bowel or bladder incontinence. Surgery for sciatica will include removing the bone spur, or the portion of the herniated disk which is pressing on the pinched nerves. Surgery will only occur when pain does not improve with other methods.
Sciatica Treatment in the Greater Princeton Area
If you have questions about sciatica, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Hamilton, NJ, serving the greater Princeton area. We can be reached at (609) 890-3400. We look forward to serving you!