Sciatica, also called lumbar radiculopathy, is a condition in which the sciatic nerve can cause pain. Your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and extends down each side of your body to the backs of your legs. Most people who suffer from sciatic nerve pain are only affected on one side of their body.
The good news is that some mild cases of sciatica go away on their own, but for those who experience recurring, intense pain (Pope Francis being a recent example), there are treatment options available to help reduce discomfort. Read on to find out more about sciatic nerve pain and what you can do about it.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica lumbar radiculopathy is commonly caused by an issue with the spine, most notably when a spinal injury affects the sciatic nerve. For example, sciatica pain may happen when you have:
- A herniated disc in the spine, which can affect the sciatic nerve and cause inflammation and pain, either by directly compressing the nerve or by releasing chemicals that affect the nerve.
- Spinal stenosis, where your spinal column narrows due to an injury, arthritis or wear-and-tear. This can compress the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and inflammation.
- A tumor on your spine. Although this is less common, a tumor can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica lumbar radiculopathy.
You may be more at risk for sciatic pain if you’re overweight, sit for long periods of time or have diabetes. Those with jobs that require heavy lifting may also be more at risk.
Symptoms of Sciatica Lumbar Radiculopathy
Sciatica pain can vary from patient to patient, with the most common symptom being pain that travels from your lower back down the back of your leg. Again, this is most common only on one side of the body.
Those who suffer from sciatica can experience discomfort either in one part of the nerve, such as in the lower back or on the back of a leg, but more often, the pain radiates through the nerve. It may be a mild sensation or a sudden, intense burning feeling. You may also have numbness or weakness on the affected side of your body.
For many, sitting for long periods of time, coughing or sneezing can make the pain worse. Poor posture, being overweight and even depression can all potentially intensify sciatica pain.
Treatment Options for Sciatica Pain
Your treatment options will vary, depending on what’s causing your sciatica discomfort as well as the intensity of your pain. Treatment may include:
- Physical therapy. For cases of mild sciatica pain, physical therapy may improve discomfort.
- Medication. Anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and even anti-depressants may help sciatica for some patients.
- Steroid injections. Steroid injections may help lower inflammation and improve sciatica pain.
- Non-invasive procedures. If you have a herniated disc or another spinal problem that’s causing your sciatica, you may be able to repair it with a non-invasive procedure to stop sciatica.
- Surgery. Only more severe cases of sciatica may benefit from surgery, such as to correct an issue in the spine that’s causing the nerve pain.
Let Us Help You Improve Sciatica Pain
If you’re experiencing discomfort from sciatica lumbar radiculopathy, you have options to reduce your pain. Contact Summit Spine & Joint Centers at (770) 962-3642 or submit our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians today.