The Sciatic nerve is the largest in your body, so when there is something wrong with it, there is bound to be some pain. The actual nerve starts out in the lower spine, goes into the buttock, to the back of the thigh and keeps going down to the foot. Unfortunately, this means sciatica pain can do the same thing. When it’s not causing you pain, however, the sciatic nerve serves an important purpose, and helps the spinal cord maintain communication with your leg and foot muscles and dictates reflexes.
Why Sciatica Pain Happens
As with any pain, one of the first steps in dealing with sciatica pain is to understand where it comes from so that you can work to reverse the effects and reduce or eliminate the pain. In most cases of sciatica, the sciatic nerve has somehow become compressed, causing sciatic or lumbar radiculopathy. In most cases, it is a particular nerve root in the spine that is effected by a herniated disc, which reduces or eliminates the natural cushioning in that area of the spine. A stress fracture, narrowing of the spinal canal after age 60, or joint problems may also contribute to sciatica pain.
Once the pain hits the sciatic nerve, it makes its way down the lower extremities. In addition to back pain and leg pain, other types of discomfort, including tingling, numbness, burning, or a prickly sensation may be felt as well. The pain itself is normally sharp in nature, rather than dull, and feels worse when standing or sitting still and lessens if you walk around.
Treating Sciatica Pain
When sciatica pain becomes severe, some health care providers will go as far as suggesting strong medications, such as epidural steroid injections, or narcotic muscle relaxants in order to alleviate the pain, and many patients follow cultural instincts when pain begins and grab a dose of over the counter medicine, such as ibuprofen when they start to feel their back pain travel into their legs. These methods can have long term negative effects, however, and many seek out alternatives that can be just as effective while carrying fewer risks.
- Heat and Ice. When sciatica pain happens only occasionally, applying heat and ice packs may be enough to get the pain under control. Alternating between applying ice and heat is beneficial for many people, although some prefer one method over the other. In either case, it is important to have a barrier, such as a towel to prevent burns.
- Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation. Spinal manipulation by a skilled chiropractor can help to improve spinal alignment and correct many of the root causes of sciatic pain.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient treatment method designed to balance the body’s energy by inserting very thin needles into the skin near the pain source.
- Massage Therapy. Massage therapy can help improve pain by improving circulation, relaxing muscles, and releasing endorphins.
In some cases, other methods are attempted unsuccessfully, and orthopedic surgery becomes necessary to treat chronic sciatica pain. At Southeast Orthopedic Specialists in Jacksonville, Middleburg, Vendra Beach and Orange Park, Florida our orthopedic doctors and specialists will look at the specifics of what is going on with your sciatica pain and help you find the right path to long term relief. If you are experiencing sciatica pain, let us help you get to the root of the problem. Contact us at 904-634-0640 to make an appointment and the location that is best for you.Return to Blog