Sciatica: The Elusive Diagnosis

     Anyone who deals with back pain knows the frustration of being debilitated with such discomfort.  Even more frustrating is not knowing why your back hurts as much as it does.  Some individuals can identify how or what they did to injure their back while others are stymied because there seems to be no legitimate reason.  Sciatic pain (or sciatica) is one of those typically elusive medical mysteries. 

     Sciatica is just a symptom that involves irritation or a problem with the sciatic nerve.  The sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the human body) controls the sensations and muscle movements of the leg, knee, thigh, and feet.  Sciatic pain can manifest itself as sharp, tingling pain or numbness down the affected leg.  Sometimes individuals will say that the sensation feels like burning at times.  Sciatica will usually only affect one side of the body.

     There are some known explanations for sciatica, and these include a ruptured disk in the back, an injury to the back, or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine that leads to pressure on the nerve) (, n.d.).  The reality in many cases is that no definitive cause can be identified. 

     Initial treatment of sciatica is usually conservative.  In some instances, the sciatica will resolve on its’ own, however, many need medical intervention due to acute and severe pain.  Treatments may include oral and/or injectable steroids to control inflammation along with stronger oral and/or injectable non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to control pain.  Other treatment options may include specific exercise regimens and possibly physical therapy.  More severe cases that cannot be managed conservatively may require a consultation with a surgeon.

     If you have sciatic pain (or back pain), do not wait to have it assessed by your provider.  There are treatments and techniques that can be employed immediately, so there is no need to suffer through the pain.  We are here to help so just give us a call at the clinic.


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