Sciatica is a type of pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. The condition typically affects only one side of the body.

A herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve and may lead to sciatica. The condition is characterized by inflammation, pain, and often some numbness in the affected leg.


Symptoms


Sciatica is characterized by pain that radiates from the lower (lumbar) spine to the buttock and down the back of the leg. Patients may feel discomfort along the nerve pathway, but are likely to feel pain that follows a path from their low back to the buttock and the back of the thigh and calf.

Pain can range from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. The pain can sometimes feel like a jolt or electric shock and worsen with coughing or sneezing, and prolonged sitting.

Other symptoms of sciatica include numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. Patients may have pain in one part of their leg and numbness in another part.

Woman-experiencing-pain-from-sciatica
Doctor-reviewing-patient’s-symptoms-of-sciatica

Causes


Sciatica may be caused by:

  • Pinched sciatic nerve, often caused by a herniated disc in the spine, or bone spur
  • Tumor compressing the sciatic nerve
  • Damage by a disease such as diabetes

Risk Factors


Risk factors for sciatica include:

  • Older age increases the likelihood of developing herniated discs and bone spurs
  • Obesity increases stress on the spine
  • Occupations that require twisting the back, carrying heavy loads, or driving a motor vehicle for long periods
  • Prolonged sitting or those who have a sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes affects the way the body uses blood sugar, increasing the risk of nerve damage

Treatment Options for Sciatica


At Westcare Clinics, patients experiencing sciatica may require a treatment plan that includes pain management techniques, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine. The right approach to treatment will depend on the patient’s pain level and overall physical condition.

Treatment for sciatica may incorporate pain management techniques, such as cold and heat therapy, gentle exercise, mind-body techniques, physical therapy, biofeedback, music therapy, therapeutic massage, and occupational therapy to help manage their symptoms. Each patient will receive personalized recommendations from their doctor for managing sciatica pain.

Woman-experiencing-sciatica-pain

Westcare Clinics also offers joint and soft tissue injections to help minimize pain associated with sciatica. These injections may include epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal) or other spinal injections.

Westcare Clinics offers occupational medicine for patients who need to continue working in spite of the limitations created by their condition. Our team of healthcare practitioners is also available to help employers adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities according to the physical limitations of an employee suffering from sciatica.

Advanced Treatment


Patients experiencing severe symptoms may need further treatment for sciatica. Advanced treatment for sciatica may include chiropractic adjustment, surgery, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment.

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