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Sciatica Treatment

Dr. Arvind Jayaswal (HOD)

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Sciatica is pain that starts in your lower back and shoots down through your legs and sometimes into your feet. It happens when something in your body, maybe a herniated disk or bone spur or tissues compresses nerve roots. Some people experience sharp, intense pain while others get tingling, weakness, and numbness in their legs.

It causes pain and discomfort, but there are many effective treatments for it. Most people with sciatica don’t end up needing surgery and about half get better within 6 weeks with only rest from daily activities and medication.

Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in your butt or leg that worsens when you walk
  • Hip pain
  • Burning or tingling down your leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of your butt
  • A shooting pain down your leg that makes it difficult to stand up
  • Rarely loss of bowel bladder control with or without numbness in private parts

Sciatica usually affects only one side of your lower body but can be in both legs .Often, the pain extends from your lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through one of your legs. Depending on where your sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to your foot or toes.

Risk factors for sciatica include:

  • Age. Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.
  • Obesity. By increasing the stress on your spine, excess body weight may contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
  • Occupation. A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods may play a role in sciatica, but there’s no conclusive evidence of this link.
  • Prolonged sitting. People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.
  • This condition, which affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage.
  • Predisposes to disc problems

Complications:  Although most people recover well from sciatica, often without any specific treatment, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage so seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Loss of feeling in the affected leg
  • Weakness in the affected leg
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function
  • Numbness in private parts

 

If your pain doesn’t improve with self-care measures, your doctor might suggest some of the following treatments.

Medications

The types of drugs that might be prescribed for sciatica pain include:

  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Narcotics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Neuropathic pain medication

Physical therapy

Once your acute pain improves, your doctor or a physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help you prevent future injuries. This typically includes exercises to correct your posture, strengthen the muscles supporting your back and improve your flexibility.

Steroid injections

In some cases, your doctor might recommend injection of a corticosteroid medication into the area around the involved nerve root commonly called as Selective nerve root block .Corticosteroids help reduce pain by suppressing inflammation around the irritated nerve. The effects usually wear off in a few months but can be of good value in some patients .The number of steroid injections you can receive is limited and cannot be given too frequently.

Surgery

This option is usually reserved for when the compressed nerve causes significant weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or when you have pain that progressively worsens or doesn’t improve with other therapies. Surgeons can remove the bone spur tissue or the portion of the herniated disk that’s pressing on the pinched nerve.

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