Sciatica Q & A
What is sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body, extending from your lower back to your feet. Sciatica happens when this nerve becomes inflamed or compressed. This may cause shooting pain, weakness, or a tingling sensation that travels from your lower back, though the back of your leg, and into your foot.
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica happens when trauma or a medical condition increases pressure on your sciatic nerve. Common causes of sciatica include:
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal bone spurs
- Tumors on the spine
- A traumatic injury
Sometimes, conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy, or obesity can irritate and compress the sciatic nerve.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The most prominent symptom of sciatica is shooting pain that radiates from your lower spine down the back of your leg. Most of the time, sciatica affects only one side of your body.
Sciatica pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, stabbing pain. Sometimes, sciatica can feel like an electric shock. You may also feel numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg, foot, or toes.
Pain from sciatica may worsen after long periods of sitting or when you cough or sneeze. It’s possible to feel pain in one part of your leg and numbness or tingling in another.
How is sciatica diagnosed and treated?
First, your provider at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care performs a physical exam and asks you to describe your symptoms and medical history. They will also ask you to perform simple movements to evaluate your strength and range of motion.
They may also take diagnostic tests, including:
- CT scan
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Nerve conduction study (NCS)
Imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI help the team at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care pinpoint the location, source, and severity of your sciatic nerve compression. EMG and nerve conduction studies provide information about how well your sciatic nerve is functioning.
Once they determine the cause of your sciatica, the team at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care develops a personalized treatment plan. Most people with sciatica find relief from nonsurgical treatments, including:
- Pain-relieving medication
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy
If your condition is severe or does not improve with treatment, they may recommend surgery.
For expert treatment of sciatica, call Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care at 972-596-1059.