San Francisco Spine Surgeons

Sciatica? Here’s What you Need to Know

SciaticaDo you suffer the symptoms of sciatica, such as a burning sensation that radiates down your leg, possibly all the way into your foot? Whether mild or severe, sciatica symptoms can keep you from wanting to do much at all. This condition is often related to degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. What this means is that symptoms are not likely to get better on their own. Here’s what you need to know if you want to restore comfort back into your life.

Treatment needs to revolve around you.

Sciatica is not actually a condition in and of itself. It is a symptom of a problem somewhere along a particular nerve pathway. Because there are several potential causes for the discomfort felt in the lower extremities, there must be a customized approach to deal with what ails you. If you have sciatica, you may not benefit much by following the same treatment plan as, say, a family member who once struggled with the same symptoms.

Sciatica is not a problem that should be self-treated. Especially if your symptoms are severe, what you want most is relief. To get that as quickly as possible, consult with your physician for proper care. This may involve:

  • Managing pain and decreasing nerve irritation with over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. If pain is severe or does not improve with this approach, prescription medications may be ordered.
  • Severe sciatica may need to be treated more aggressively, with an epideral injection of a steroid solution. According to research, roughly 50% of the patients treated with epidural steroid injection obtain significant relief.

Treatment will need to involve exercise.

If you have had sciatica, or have it now, the idea of exercise may send shivers down your spine. A sciatica flare up can dramatically inhibit your desire to move around much. Ironically, lack of movement may only exacerbate the original problem. If sciatica originates in the low back, which it often does, you avoid exercise. This leads to muscle weakness in the low back, which places more stress on the sciatic nerve.

Treatment for sciatica first focuses on pain relief. When comfort improves, exercise feels a lot more palatable. Once you can begin an exercise routine, remember two things: keep it low impact, and keep it up.

The team at San Francisco Spine surgeons is happy to answer your questions. Call 415-750-5570.

Posted in: Back Pain


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