Sciatica pain is very common. In fact, 40% of people will experience sciatica at some point in their life. Unfortunately, sciatica is often misdiagnosed as people tend to categorize sciatica as regular back pain, but this pain is unique to the sciatic nerve.
Dr. Desh Sahni at Capital Brain and Spine Surgery Center specializes in treating the specific causes and symptoms of sciatica and can help you find relief.
The basics of sciatica
You have a long nerve in your back that runs through your hips, buttocks, and down each leg called the sciatic nerve. You experience sciatica and its painful side effects if there is damage to this nerve like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, which means your spine has compressed and put pressure on your nerve.
With sciatica, you’re likely to experience pain in not just your back, but in the areas of your body where the sciatic nerve is present. You may also feel numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. If the pain is severe or sudden or you have trouble controlling your bowels, call Dr. Sahni immediately.
Solutions for sciatica
We encourage you to seek treatment in our office as well as employ solutions to manage your symptoms during your daily life. Here are some sciatica solutions Dr. Sahni recommends:
Some light stretches while you’re watching TV can go a long way for your sciatica. Stretching improves flexibility and your range of motion while building up strength. One of the most effective stretches is to lie on your back and slowly bring your knee to your chest. You should feel the stretch in your low back. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Sahni for a full list of stretches and exercises specifically for your situation.
Switch up your posture
If you find yourself stuck in the same position for long periods of time, try varying your posture every 20 minutes if you can. For example, if you work in an office and sit for a long time, make sure you take a break and stand or walk around. Sitting and standing with good posture can also relieve some of your pain.
Add heat and ice
Applying heat to a painful area promotes blood flow and healing, while ice helps to reduce inflammation. It is best to apply ice for 15 minutes and then heat for another 15 minutes every hour. Remember to always use a towel to protect your skin.
In addition to ice, over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Always consult Dr. Sahni before starting a medication regimen.
If your pain is so severe that at-home remedies aren’t working, Dr. Sahni recommends treatment including:
During a physical therapy session, you go through exercises and stretches designed to strengthen your spine and improve flexibility. Often, your physical therapy program will include gentle aerobic conditioning and core workouts all tailored to your needs, and we give you a list of exercises to complete at home.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method commonly used to relieve pain. During an acupuncture treatment, tiny needles are inserted into specific points on your back. The needles tap into your central nervous system and release chemicals that relieve pain like opioid peptides, neurotransmitters, neurohormones, endorphins, and electromagnetic signals. Acupuncture has proven to be an effective treatment for sciatica with an impressive success rate of 81.6%
Chiropractic care for sciatica takes on a few different forms. For example, an ultrasound machine can be used to send sound waves into your affected tissues to reduce the sciatica pain. Similarly, a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit uses gentle electrical currents to control pain.
Manual chiropractic adjustments are also be effective in alleviating sciatica pain. Manual adjustments align the spine and reduce the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
When conservative treatments aren’t enough to solve your sciatica pain, Dr. Sahni recommends surgical intervention. Surgery is most often used to treat sciatica when it’s caused by a herniated disc.
Dr. Sahni offers a minimally-invasive and highly-effective surgery called microdiscectomy. More than 84% of patients who have received a microdiscectomy report relief from pain. The incision is less than an inch long and is located where the affected disc is. During the surgery, Dr. Sahni removes the damaged disc material leaving the healthy portion intact.
You can leave the hospital the same day or within 24 hours of your procedure. Dr. Sahni recommends that you avoid lifting, bending, twisting, or lifting for a prolonged period of time (usually six weeks). Your normal routine will most likely be interrupted for two to four weeks.
Sciatica pain is frustrating and can be debilitating. When you’re ready to feel relief from your symptoms, call or make an appointment online.