Various issues lead to back pain, including sciatica. When one or more of the large nerves in your back become irritated, the result is often low back pain and nerve pain in the legs and buttocks.
Sciatica can be acute or chronic and may lead to long-term disability if you're not careful. However, in many cases, you can treat sciatic pain on your own with total relief in a few days.
Dr. Schachi Patel and the Delmarva Pain and Spine Center team offer various treatments for back pain related to sciatica.
Dr. Patel is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist who provides customized care and diagnostic studies to get to the bottom of your back pain.
The facts on sciatica
Sciatica is a term doctors use to describe any nerve-related pain in the lower back and legs. The word comes from the sciatic nerve, the largest in the body. It extends from the hips, down each buttock and leg, and stops below each knee.
However, genuine injury or damage to the sciatic nerve is rare. Still, the condition's symptoms are similar when something affects other nerves in the back.
Various conditions lead to sciatica, including acute injury or chronic back problems. Some of the common issues related to sciatic pain include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated discs
- Strained muscles
- Degenerative disc disease
Pregnancy, tumors, and other growths on the spine can also cause sciatica symptoms. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include signs such as:
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain radiating down one leg
- Numbness in the legs
- Tingling or pins and needles
- Muscle weakness
In severe cases of sciatica, people may lose bowel and bladder control, which is a sign of an actual emergency. If this happens, seek expert medical care immediately.
Taking care of sciatica at home
The good news is that most cases of mild sciatica that don't involve tingling, numbness, or weakness go away with self-care.
If you're experiencing back pain or pain in one leg, you can attempt self-care at home before seeking treatment. Some treatments to try include:
- Over-the-counter medications
Mild sciatica may resolve independently with the above steps after a few days to a few weeks. However, if your pain continues for more than a week without relief or you're experiencing symptoms like weakness or tingling, it's a good idea to seek help from Dr. Patel.
Do I need expert treatment?
Sciatica can be extremely debilitating, primarily affecting work and your normal activities. Professional treatment is necessary if you have mild sciatica that isn't better after a week or moderate to severe pain impacting your life.
At your appointment, Dr. Patel evaluates your symptoms and examines your back to determine what's behind the pain. She also orders diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or MRI, to determine if there's anything pressing on the nerves in the back.
She asks you what treatments you've tried at home and if any have helped control the discomfort. Dr. Patel offers various treatments for sciatica, including the following:
- Nerve block
- Spinal steroid injection
- Muscle relaxers
- Physical therapy
In severe situations, Dr. Patel may recommend surgery to fix the root cause of the problem pressing on the spinal nerves. However, surgery is rarely the first option and is a last resort for pain relief.
If you've tried various home treatments without significant relief of your symptoms, it's crucial to see a specialist as soon as possible.
If you're dealing with sciatica, don't hesitate to call our office in Newark, Delaware, today at 302-355-0900 or request a consultation on the website.