Sciatica

Sciatica

Perhaps you woke up this morning with a sharp pain running down your back and into your leg. It hurts to move. It hurts to sit and standing isn’t much better. When you are suffering from this type of pain, which can be debilitating, it may be due to sciatica. The sciatic is a nerve that runs from the lower back down into your hips and down into your legs. If this is the pathway that your pain follows, chances are good that you are suffering from a pinch some place in the sciatic nerve.

Do You Need to Seek Medical Care for Sciatica?

Sciatica is a message from your nerve to your brain indicating something is wrong. It can occur for many reasons including overworking the muscles and joints in this area or bulging discs in your spine. No matter why it is occurring, the pain isn’t likely to go away until your body is able to rest and heal. That is why seeing your New Jersey sciatica doctor is always recommended. Our treatment options can help you to start feeling better sooner instead of simply having to sit out of life until the pain goes away. There’s no reason for that!

What If the Pain Isn’t Intense?

Sciatica can range from mild and tolerable to very much debilitating. In all situations, it is very important for you to seek out care. Mild pain may be a symptom of an underlying condition involving the spinal column. It may also indicate the need for lifestyle choices that could improve your overall mobility and function. Unfortunately, many people who have sciatica at a mild level will see their pain increase over time or the frequency of sciatic pain occurring increase. Most commonly, this type of pain doesn’t just go away on its own.

When you schedule a consultation with our sciatica doctor in New Jersey, you’ll get help determining what the underlying cause is, what can be done about it, and how you can restore as much function and quality of life as possible. Trust our team to provide you with the support you need to overcome this type of pain.

Sciatic NerveSciatica is not a condition but a symptom of a disorder that compresses or injures the sciatica nerve.  The sciatic nerve is large and long.  It begins in the lower back and travels downward behind the hip joint, through the buttocks, into the thighs, and along the back of each leg into the feet.  The sciatic nerve powers different leg muscles and the soles of the feet.

Classic sciatica radiates (travels) below one or both knees.  Characteristics of sciatica include:

  • Pain: mild, achy, sharp, excruciating
  • Electric shock-like pain
  • Laughing, coughing or sneezing aggravates pain
  • Movement at the waist worsens pain.
  • Sitting or walking often increases pain.
  • Sensations: burning, numbness, tingling, pins and needles
  • Weakness
  • Unable to move
  • Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction (rare)*

*Loss of bowel and/or bladder control may be a symptom of cauda equina syndrome, a serious medical condition.  Seek medical care immediately.

Possible causes

*Piriformis Syndrome is caused by the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve.  The piriformis muscle is in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint.

Diagnostic examination

The purpose of a diagnostic examination is to learn about your general health, lifestyle, past medical history, and current spine problem.  We will  assess the strength in your legs and feet (vs. weakness), reflexes, and conduct specific diagnostic maneuvers (i.e., straight-leg raise).  The information is combined with imaging and other test results to confirm the cause of sciatica.

MRI is performed to evaluate your lumbar spine.  Sometimes a plain x-ray is ordered.  Depending on the results of your examination and MRI, our doctors may conduct electrodiagnostic studies.

Questions our Doctors may ask include:

  • When did sciatica start?  Have you had sciatica before?
  • Did a particular event precede low back pain or sciatic pain?
  • Has your pain improved or worsened?
  • Does pain radiate into another part of your body?
  • On a scale of zero (no pain) to 10 (agony), what is your current pain level?
  • Does pain affect your ability to work or perform ordinary activities of daily life?
  • Do pain and symptoms disrupt your sleep?
  • Other questions specifically related to you and your symptoms.

Interventional treatment

The treatment plan depends on the diagnosis—the cause of sciatica.

We combine non-operative interventionaltreatments to resolve sciatica and its cause.  Interventional means to ‘intervene’ to stop and manage pain while you heal.

Treatments are administered in a step-wise way.  We believe less can be more, and we apply that philosophy to our treatment approach.  For example, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and passive physical therapy may be as effective as a narcotic painkiller, but with fewer side effects.  However, no two patients are alike, and your low back disorder may require more aggressive care.

Interventional treatments may include:

Do you require immediate medical attention?

Sciatic pain can be intense, disabling and cause you great concern.  “Do I need immediate medical attention?” is a question many patients ask.  If you are asking yourself that question, ease your mind and contact Rehabilitation Medicine Center of  New Jersey.  We welcome your questions and can make an appointment for you to discuss your symptoms with our staff.