Sciatica is a common condition, with as many as 80-90% of people being affected at some point in their lives. An irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from buttock to foot in both legs and has roots on either side of the lower spine, sciatica pain is felt in the buttocks and thighs. Pain may present as a constant mild or severe ache, in shooting bursts, or as an uncomfortable burning sensation. In addition to this, you may experience numbness, weakness, or a tingling sensation in the buttocks, leg, or foot. Simple movements like sneezing or sitting can cause the pain to worsen, as can exposure to cold weather.
Though painful, sciatica can be treated in a number of ways. Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain medications can provide short term relief. If your pain is severe, your doctor may recommend taking prescribed pain relievers or muscle relaxants. Physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help patients to recover from sciatica, and are used to complement most treatment options.
Several non-surgical procedures and alternative therapies have proven effective in the treatment of sciatica. These treatments are minimally invasive, and are entirely safe.
Using state of the art imaging guiding technology, an epidural injection can reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain by injecting medication directly into the affected area. In some patients, an epidural injection can provide relief for up to a year, but for many the relief is more temporary.
Medical acupuncture is another option, and can be used as a supplement to other treatments. Performed by a medical doctor with thorough training in acupuncture, hair-thin needles are inserted into the skin to reduce pain and leave patients with an overall feeling of wellness. Results are often noticeable even after a single session. Acupuncture is not painful—in fact, many patients report feeling relaxed both during and after a session.
Surgery is required only in rare cases, such as the correction of a herniated disc that is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. For patients whose sciatica is the result of a herniated disc, stem cell therapy is an alternative treatment option to surgery for treating the problem at its source. Stem cell therapy helps the body to recover naturally within a period of weeks.
To find out more about any of the sciatica treatment options that the Spine & Joint Center offers, contact us today.