Many readers are interested in the following topic: Immediate Relief For Sciatica Pain. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.
Spinal bone spurs are overgrowths of bone on the vertebrae. Bone spurs are commonly associated with aging, but spinal conditions such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease (DDD) can also be the cause.
Sciatica Pain Relief
As many as 4 out of every 10 people will get sciatica, or irritation of the sciatic nerve, at some point in their life. This nerve comes from either side of the lower spine and travels through the pelvis and buttocks. Then the nerve passes along the back of each upper leg before it divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet.
Anything that puts pressure on or irritates this nerve can cause pain that shoots down the back of one buttock or thigh. The sensation of pain can vary widely. Sciatica may feel like a mild ache; a sharp, burning sensation; or extreme discomfort. Sciatica can also cause feelings of numbness, weakness, and tingling.
Pain may be made worse by prolonged sitting, standing up, coughing, sneezing, twisting, lifting, or straining. Treatment for sciatic pain ranges from hot and cold packs and medications to exercises and complementary and alternative remedies.
Medications for Relief of Pain From Sciatica
Several types of medications may be used for sciatic pain. Oral medications include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin], ketoprofen, or naproxen [Aleve])
- Prescription muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms
- Antidepressants for chronic low back pain
- Prescription pain medications for more severe pain
Do not give aspirin to a child aged 18 years of age or younger because of the increased risk of Reye’s syndrome.
In some cases, a steroid medication is injected into the space around the spinal nerve. Research suggests these injections have a modest effect when irritation is caused by pressure from a herniated, or ruptured, disc.
Physical Therapy for Sciatica
Sciatica pain may make it difficult to be active. But bed rest is not recommended as a mainstay treatment. To manage new sciatica pain, you may find that certain positions and activities are more comfortable than others.
If symptoms are not severe but persist beyond a couple of weeks, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The proper exercises may actually help reduce sciatic pain. They can also provide conditioning to help prevent the pain from coming back.
The exercises recommended will depend on what’s causing the sciatica. It’s important to work with a specialist who has experience working with people with sciatica. It’s also important to do the exercises exactly as directed.
To get the proper direction, you will most likely work with one of the following specialists:
- Physical therapist
- Physiatrist — a doctor who specializes in physical medicine
Complementary and Alternative Remedies for Sciatica Pain Relief
Some people find pain relief from complementary and alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture. Keep in mind, though, that these therapies have not been shown by scientific studies to help sciatica.
Biofeedback is a technique that helps make it possible to control bodily processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. It works by using a machine that provides information about the process being addressed. Having that information displayed, the person is often able to find ways to achieve conscious control of these processes. Probably the most common use of biofeedback is to treat stress and stress-related conditions.
Acupuncture is a treatment that uses fine needles inserted at specific locations on the skin called acupuncture points. The points are located along meridians, or channels. The channels are thought to conduct qi, which is said to be the energy or vital force of the body. The theory behind using acupuncture is that pain is thought to result from imbalances or blockages of the flow of qi. Acupuncture is supposed to remove those blockages to restore the balance.
One theory is that stimulating these points produces an effect by stimulating the central nervous system. This, in turn, would trigger the release of chemicals that either alter the experience of pain or produce other changes that promote a sense of well-being.
Surgery for Sciatica
Only a very small percentage of people with sciatica will require surgery. If pain from sciatica persists for at least 6 weeks despite treatment, you may be referred to a specialist. At that point, surgery may be an option. The goal for surgery is to remedy the cause of the sciatica. For example, if a herniated disc is putting pressure on the nerve, then surgery to correct the problem may relieve sciatica pain.
If sciatica symptoms are severe or become progressively worse, then immediate referral to a specialist is necessary.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Sciatica.”
JAMA Patient Page, July 8, 2009.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Acupuncture for Pain.”
Koes, B. BMJ, June 23, 2007.
NYU Langone Medical Center: “Sciatica,” “Biofeedback,” “Acupuncture.”
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: “Sciatica: More than Just Back Pain.”
Hospital for Special Surgery: “Symptoms and Causes of Sciatica.”
Healthfinder.gov: “Sciatica Relief May Depend on How Steroid Shots Are Delivered.”
Spine-Health: “Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief.”
The University of Chicago Medical Center: “Acupuncture.”
Sciatica pain is caused by an irritation, inflammation, pinching or compression of a nerve in the lower back. The most common cause is a herniated or slipped disk that causes pressure on the nerve root. Most people with sciatica get better on their own with time and self-care treatments.
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What is sciatica?
Sciatica is nerve pain from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which originates in your buttock/gluteal area. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest (almost finger-width) nerve in the body. It’s actually made up of five nerve roots: two from the lower back region called the lumbar spine and three from the final section of the spine called the sacrum. The five nerve roots come together to form a right and left sciatic nerve. On each side of your body, one sciatic nerve runs through your hips, buttocks and down a leg, ending just below the knee. The sciatic nerve then branches into other nerves, which continue down your leg and into your foot and toes.
True injury to the sciatic nerve “sciatica” is actually rare, but the term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg. What this pain shares in common is an injury to a nerve — an irritation, inflammation, pinching or compression of a nerve in your lower back.
If you have “sciatica,” you experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve – that is, anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks and/or down your legs. It can also cause muscle weakness in your leg and foot, numbness in your leg, and an unpleasant tingling pins-and-needles sensation in your leg, foot and toes.
What does sciatica pain feel like?
People describe sciatica pain in different ways, depending on its cause. Some people describe the pain as sharp, shooting, or jolts of pain. Others describe this pain as “burning,” “electric” or “stabbing.”
The pain may be constant or may come and go. Also, the pain is usually more severe in your leg compared to your lower back. The pain may feel worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time, when you stand up and when your twist your upper body. A forced and sudden body movement, like a cough or sneeze, can also make the pain worse.
Can sciatica occur down both legs?
Sciatica usually affects only one leg at a time. However, it’s possible for sciatica to occur in both legs. It’s simply a matter of where the nerve is being pinched along the spinal column.
Does sciatica occur suddenly or does it take time to develop?
Sciatica can come on suddenly or gradually. It depends on the cause. A disk herniation can cause sudden pain. Arthritis in the spine develops slowly over time.
How common is sciatica?
Sciatica is a very common complaint. About 40% of people in the U.S. experience sciatica sometime during their life. Back pain is the third most common reason people visit their healthcare provider.
What are the risk factors for sciatica?
You are at greater risk of sciatica if you:
- Have an injury/previous injury: An injury to your lower back or spine puts you at greater risk for sciatica.
- Live life: With normal aging comes a natural wearing down of bone tissue and disks in your spine. Normal aging can put your nerves at risk of being injured or pinched by the changes and shifts in bone, disks and ligaments.
- Are overweight: Your spine is like a vertical crane. Your muscles are the counterweights. The weight you carry in the front of your body is what your spine (crane) has to lift. The more weight you have, the more your back muscles (counterweights) have to work. This can lead to back strains, pains and other back issues.
- Lack a strong core: Your “core” are the muscles of your back and abdomen. The stronger your core, the more support you’ll have for your lower back. Unlike your chest area, where your rib cage provides support, the only support for your lower back is your muscles.
- Have an active, physical job: Jobs that require heavy lifting may increase your risk of low back problems and use of your back, or jobs with prolonged sitting may increase your risk of low back problems.
- Lack proper posture in the weight room: Even if you are physically fit and active, you can still be prone to sciatica if you don’t follow proper body form during weight lifting or other strength training exercises.
- Have diabetes:Diabetes increases your chance of nerve damage, which increases your chance of sciatica.
- Have osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis can cause damage to your spine and put nerves at risk of injury.
- Lead an inactive lifestyle: Sitting for long period of time and not exercising and keeping your muscles moving, flexible and toned can increase your risk of sciatica.
- Smoke: The nicotine in tobacco can damage spinal tissue, weaken bones, and speed the wearing down of vertebral disks.
Is the weight of pregnancy the reason why so many pregnant women get sciatica?
It’s true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The baby’s weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.
The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica can be caused by several different medical conditions including:
- A herniated or slipped disk that causes pressure on a nerve root. This is the most common cause of sciatica. About 1% to 5% of all people in the U.S. will have a slipped disk at one point in their lives. Disks are the cushioning pads between each vertebrae of the spine. Pressure from vertebrae can cause the gel-like center of a disk to bulge (herniate) through a weakness in its outer wall. When a herniated disk happens to a vertebrae in your lower back, it can press on the sciatic nerve.
- Degenerative disk disease is the natural wear down of the disks between vertebrae of the spine. The wearing down of the disks shortens their height and leads to the nerve passageways becoming narrower (spinal stenosis). Spinal stenosis can pinch the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spine.
- Spinal stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing reduces the available space for the spinal cord and nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis is a slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits. The extended spinal bone can pinch the sciatic nerve.
- Osteoarthritis. Bone spurs (jagged edges of bone) can form in aging spines and compress lower back nerves.
- Trauma injury to the lumbar spine or sciatic nerve.
- Tumors in the lumbar spinal canal that compress the sciatic nerve.
- Piriformis syndrome is a condition that develops when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, becomes tight or spasms. This can put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder.
- Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but serious condition that affects the bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord called the cauda equina. This syndrome causes pain down the leg, numbness around the anus and loss of bowel and bladder control.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The symptoms of sciatica include:
- Moderate to severe pain in lower back, buttock and down your leg.
- Numbness or weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg or feet.
- Pain that worsens with movement; loss of movement.
- “Pins and needles” feeling in your legs, toes or feet.
- Loss of bowel and bladder control (due to cauda equina).
Diagnosis and Tests
How is sciatica diagnosed?
First, your healthcare provider will review your medical history. Next, they’ll ask about your symptoms.
During your physical exam, you will be asked to walk so your healthcare provider can see how your spine carries your weight. You may be asked to walk on your toes and heels to check the strength of your calf muscles. Your provider may also do a straight leg raise test. For this test, you’ll lie on your back with your legs straight. Your provider will slowly raise each leg and note the point at which your pain begins. This test helps pinpoint the affected nerves and determines if there is a problem with one of your disks. You will also be asked to do other stretches and motions to pinpoint pain and check muscle flexibility and strength.
Depending on what your healthcare provider discovers during your physical exam, imaging and other tests might be done. These may include:
- Spinal X-rays to look for spinal fractures, disk problems, infections, tumors and bone spurs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to see detailed images of bone and soft tissues of the back. An MRI can show pressure on a nerve, disk herniation and any arthritic condition that might be pressing on a nerve. MRIs are usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis of sciatica.
- Nerve conduction velocity studies/electromyography to examine how well electrical impulses travel through the sciatic nerve and the response of muscles.
- Myelogram to determine if a vertebrae or disk is causing the pain.
Management and Treatment
How is sciatica treated?
The goal of treatment is to decrease your pain and increase your mobility. Depending on the cause, many cases of sciatica go away over time with some simple self-care treatments.
Self-care treatments include:
- Appling ice and/or hot packs: First, use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice packs or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to the affected area. Apply for 20 minutes, several times a day. Switch to a hot pack or a heating pad after the first several days. Apply for 20 minutes at a time. If you’re still in pain, switch between hot and cold packs – whichever best relieves your discomfort.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines: Take medicines to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. The many common over-the-counter medicines in this category, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®). Be watchful if you choose to take aspirin. Aspirin can cause ulcers and bleeding in some people. If you’re unable to take NSAIDS, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may be taken instead.
- Performing gentle stretches: Learn proper stretches from an instructor with experience with low back pain. Work up to other general strengthening, core muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises.
How long should I try self-care treatments for my sciatica before seeing my healthcare professional?
Every person with sciatic pain is different. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different. In some patients, a more aggressive treatment may be tried first. However, generally speaking, if a six-week trial of conservative, self-care treatments – like ice, heat, stretching, over-the-counter medicines – has not provided relief, it’s time to return to a healthcare professional and try other treatment options.
Other treatment options include:
- Prescription medications: Your healthcare provider may prescribe muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine (Amrix®, Flexeril®), to relieve the discomfort associated with muscle spasms. Other medications with pain-relieving action that may be tried include tricyclic antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. Depending on your level of pain, prescription pain medicines might be used early in your treatment plan.
- Physical therapy: The goal of physical therapy is to find exercise movements that decrease sciatica by reducing pressure on the nerve. An exercise program should include stretching exercises to improve muscle flexibility and aerobic exercises (such as walking, swimming, water aerobics). Your healthcare provider can refer you to a physical therapist who’ll work with you to customize your own stretching and aerobic exercise program and recommend other exercises to strengthen the muscles of your back, abdomen and legs.
- Spinal injections: An injection of a corticosteroid, an anti-inflammatory medicine, into the lower back might help reduce the pain and swelling around the affected nerve roots. Injections provide short-time (typically up to three months) pain relief and is given under local anesthesia as an outpatient treatment. You may feel some pressure and burning or stinging sensation as the injection is being given. Ask your healthcare provider about how many injections you might be able to receive and the risks of injections.
- Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies are increasingly popular and are used to treat and manage all kinds of pain. Alternative methods to improve sciatic pain include spine manipulation by a licensed chiropractor, yoga or acupuncture. Massage might help muscle spasms that often occur along with sciatica. Biofeedback is an option to help manage pain and relieve stress.
When is surgery considered?
Spinal surgery is usually not recommended unless you have not improved with other treatment methods such as stretching and medication, your pain is worsening, you have severe weakness in the muscles in your lower extremities or you have lost bladder or bowel control.
How soon surgery would be considered depends on the cause of your sciatica. Surgery is typically considered within a year of ongoing symptoms. Pain that is severe and unrelenting and is preventing you from standing or working and you’ve been admitted to a hospital would require more aggressive treatment and a shorter timeline to surgery. Loss of bladder or bowel control could require emergency surgery if determined to be cauda equine syndrome.
The goal of spinal surgery for sciatic pain is to remove the pressure on the nerves that are being pinched and to make sure the spine is stable.
Surgical options to relieve sciatica include:
Microdiscectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove fragments of a herniated disk that are pressing on a nerve.
- Laminectomy: In this procedure, the lamina (part of the vertebral bone; the roof of the spinal canal) that is causing pressure on the sciatic nerve is removed.
How long does it take to perform spine surgery and what’s the typical recovery time?
Discectomy and laminectomy generally take one to two hours to perform. Recovery time depends on your situation; your surgeon will tell you when you can get back to full activities. Generally the time needed to recover is six weeks to three months.
What are the risks of spinal surgery?
Though these procedures are considered very safe and effective, all surgeries have risks. Spinal surgery risks include:
- Blood clots.
- Nerve damage.
- Spinal fluid leak.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
What complications are associated with sciatica?
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic (ongoing and lasting) pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a “drop foot,” might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
Can sciatica be prevented?
Some sources of sciatica may not be preventable, such as degenerative disk disease, sciatica due to pregnancy or accidental falls. Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of sciatica, taking the following steps can help protect your back and reduce your risk:
- Maintaingood posture: Following good posture techniques while you’re sitting, standing, lifting objects and sleeping helps relieve pressure on your lower back. Pain can be an early warning sign that you are not properly aligned. If you start to feel sore or stiff, adjust your posture.
- Don’t smoke: Nicotine reduces the blood supply to bones. It weakens the spine and the vertebral disks, which puts more stress on the spine and disks and causes back and spine problems.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Extra weight and a poor diet are associated with inflammation and pain throughout your body. To lose weight or learn healthier eating habits, look into the Mediterranean diet. The closer you are to your ideal body weight the less strain you put on your spine.
- Exerciseregularly: Exercise includes stretching to keep your joints flexible and exercises to strengthen your core – the muscles of your lower back and abdomen. These muscles work to support your spine. Also, do not sit for long periods of time.
- Choose physical activities least likely to hurt your back: Consider low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, yoga or tai chi.
- Keep yourself safe from falls: Wear shoes that fit and keep stairs and walkways free of clutter to reduce your chance of a fall. Make sure rooms are well-lighted and there are grab bars in bathrooms and rails on stairways.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if I have been diagnosed with sciatica?
The good news about sciatic pain is that it usually goes away on its own with time and some self-care treatments. Most people (80% to 90%) with sciatica get better without surgery, and about half of these recover from an episode fully within six weeks.
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if your sciatica pain is not improving and you have concerns that you aren’t recovering as quickly as hoped.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
Get immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Severe leg pain lasting more than a few hours that is unbearable.
- Numbness or muscle weakness in the same leg.
- Bowel or bladder control loss. This could be due to a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which affects bundles of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.
- Sudden and severe pain from a traffic accident or some other trauma.
Even if your visit doesn’t turn out to be an emergency situation, it’s best to get it checked out.
Is the sciatic nerve the only source of “sciatica” pain?
No, the sciatic nerve is not the only source of what is generally called “sciatica” or sciatica pain. Sometimes the source of pain is higher up in the lumbar spine and causes pain in front of the thigh or in the hip area. This pain is still called sciatica.
How can I tell if pain in my hip is a hip issue or sciatica?
Hip problems, such as arthritis in the hip, usually cause groin pain, pain when you put weight on your leg, or when the leg is moved around.
If your pain starts in the back and moves or radiates towards the hip or down the leg and you have numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg, sciatica is the most likely cause.
Is radiculopathy the same as sciatica?
Radiculopathy is a broader term that describes the symptoms caused by a pinched nerve in the spinal column. Sciatica is a specific type, and the most common type, of radiculopathy.
Should I rest if I have sciatica?
Some rest and change in your activities and activity level may be needed. However, too much rest, bed rest, and physical inactivity can make your pain worse and slow the healing process. It’s important to maintain as much activity as possible to keep muscles flexible and strong.
Before beginning your own exercise program, see your healthcare provider or spine specialist first to get a proper diagnosis. This healthcare professional will refer you to the proper physical therapist or other trained exercise or body mechanics specialist to devise an exercise and muscle strengthening program that’s best for you.
Can sciatica cause my leg and/or ankle to swell?
Sciatica that is caused by a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, or bone spur that compresses the sciatic nerve can cause inflammation – or swelling – in the affected leg. Complications of piriformis syndrome can also cause swelling in the leg.
Are restless leg syndrome, multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shingles or bursitis related to sciatica?
While all these conditions affect either the spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments or joints and all can cause pain, none are directly related to sciatica. The main causes of these conditions are different. Sciatica only involves the sciatic nerve. That being said, the most similar condition would be carpal tunnel syndrome, which also involves a compression of a nerve.
A final word about sciatica. . . .
Most cases of sciatica do not require surgery. Time and self-care treatment are usually all that’s needed. However, if simple self-care treatments do not relieve your pain, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can confirm the cause of your pain, suggest other treatment options and/or refer you to other spine health specialists if needed.
Immediate Relief For Sciatica Pain
Nerves are like branches on a tree, fanning off in multiple directions. If the lower back’s sciatic nerve is exposed to uneven pressure and compression, it can cause pain not only at the nerve’s site of origin, in the lower back, but also down the buttocks, the back of the legs, and into the feet. Sciatic nerve pain can be relieved by addressing its underlying cause and working towards relieving sciatic nerve pressure.
The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and extends down the buttocks, back of the legs, and to the feet. If the sciatic nerve is compressed, lower back and radiating pain throughout the lower body can develop. Proactive treatment that addresses the underlying cause can lead to pain relief.
Before discussing the specifics of how to proactively address sciatic nerve pain, let’s first explore the topic of sciatica generally.
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Most of us have heard complaints of sciatica, but what exactly is sciatica, and what causes related pain?
The sciatic nerve is extensive, traversing the lower body, so when the sciatic nerve is exposed to adverse tension, pressure, and/or compression, it can produce pain felt in areas of the body through which it travels and reaches: the lower back, buttocks, back of the legs (most commonly the left leg), and the feet.
In addition, sciatica can also cause feelings of tingling and/or numbness felt along the sciatic nerve’s pathway.
It’s important to understand the nature of sciatica because related pain can be felt far from the nerve’s starting point, making it easy to assume pain is coming from another source.
For example, if someone is experiencing shooting nerve pain in the feet, they could assume it’s a foot problem, but in reality, the source of the pain could be the sciatic nerve.
So what types of issues and/or medical conditions can cause sciatica to develop?
Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by a number of issues, so let’s take a look at some common causes of sciatica.
Sciatic nerve pain can have a variety of sources from herniated discs to bone spurs, or the development of spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis and scoliosis.
The spine’s intervertebral discs perform many important functions and have a tough and durable outer layer (the annulus) and a soft gel-like interior (the nucleus).
As the spinal discs sit between adjacent vertebrae (bones of the spine), they provide cushioning so the vertebrae don’t rub up against one another and create friction during movement.
The discs also help facilitate vertebral movement and act as the spine’s shock absorbers so stress and weight is distributed evenly along the spine and no one section is exposed to uneven wear.
The discs help the spine maintain its healthy curves and alignment; when the intervertebral discs start to deteriorate either due to natural aging, the cumulative effect of negative lifestyle choices, or the development of a spinal condition, spinal biomechanics are disrupted, impacting the spine’s overall health and function.
Also referred to as ‘slipped’, ‘ruptured’, or ‘bulging’, a disc that becomes herniated means a fragment of the nucleus has pushed through a tear or rupture in the annulus and is protruding into the spinal canal.
As the space within the spinal canal is limited, the displacement of the herniated-disc fragment can press on surrounding nerves and produce varying levels of pain.
Particularly in cases where discs of the lower back become herniated, which is common, as the lumbar spine is where the sciatic nerve begins, the protruding nucleus fragment can expose the nerve to uneven pressure and cause sciatic nerve pain.
It’s quite common that herniated discs indicate the early stages of disc degeneration; once the intervertebral discs start to deteriorate, the spine can become misaligned and is more vulnerable to injury and the development of a variety of spinal conditions.
Spinal bone spurs are overgrowths of bone on the vertebrae. Bone spurs are commonly associated with aging, but spinal conditions such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease (DDD) can also be the cause.
Bone spurs can pinch the sciatic nerve, causing varying levels of pain along the sciatic nerve’s pathway: most commonly down the lower back, buttocks, back of the legs, and the feet.
Spinal stenosis can happen in any section of the spine, but is most common in the lower back: where the sciatic nerve starts.
Lumbar spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of the spinal canal (tunnel formed by the vertebrae) of the lower back. When the spinal canal is narrowed, there is less room for the spinal cord (bundle of nerves), and this exposes the nerves to uneven forces and pressure.
If spinal stenosis is an issue, the narrowing of the spinal canal can cause the sciatic nerve to become compressed and sciatica to develop.
If a person has scoliosis, this means they have an abnormal sideways spinal curvature, with rotation, of a certain size: Cobb angle measurement of 10+ degrees.
While not everyone with scoliosis will automatically develop sciatica, it is a common related complication.
As scoliosis involves an unnatural spinal curvature, it introduces a lot of uneven forces to the spine and its surroundings, including the nerves. As scoliosis is progressive, its very nature is to worsen over time, especially if left untreated, or not treated appropriately.
Scoliosis can develop in any section of the spine, and particularly in cases of lumbar scoliosis, it’s more likely that the sciatic nerve will be adversely affected by the scoliotic curve.
While every case of scoliosis is different, generally speaking, the higher the Cobb angle, the more severe the condition is, and the more likely it is to cause related complications such as sciatica.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, I treat related sciatic nerve pain by designing a treatment plan that addresses its underlying cause. As sciatic nerve pain is commonly regarded as one of the most debilitating types of back pain, pain management is factored into the treatment process.
While there are never treatment guarantees, my end goal with every patient is to work towards improvements that will improve their quality of life. When it comes to scoliosis and related complications such as sciatic nerve pain, I want to impact the condition in such a way that treatment results are sustainable and help prevent them from experiencing the challenges associated with progression and increasing condition severity.
How Do I Get My Sciatic Nerve to Stop Hurting?
Anyone who has suffered from back pain, whether related to a spinal condition or not, knows how debilitating and disruptive it can be to daily life.
When it comes to sciatic nerve pain, every case is different, and related pain levels will vary based on a number of important patient and condition characteristics such as age and the underlying cause of the sciatica.
Sciatic nerve pain can affect the back, legs, feet, and also cause feelings of tingling and/or numbness in the lower body. Over time, particularly if left untreated, it can also lead to mobility issues.
As scoliosis is my main area of expertise, let’s focus on scoliosis-related sciatica and how it’s addressed here at the Center.
Again, while every case is different, many patients who are living with scoliosis and related sciatic nerve pain also face mobility issues that can impact quality of life in a significant way.
Just as my approach to treating scoliosis is proactive and effective by addressing its underlying structural nature, treating scoliosis-related sciatic nerve pain also has to involve crafting a comprehensive treatment plan that gets to the root of the problem: the uneven forces that scoliosis introduces to the spine and the sciatic nerve.
For those on the traditional medical route for treating sciatic nerve pain, often medication for pain management is the main focus; however, that is only addressing a ‘symptom’ of sciatica, and not the underlying cause of the sciatica itself.
In addition, certain stretches and yoga poses can help, particularly with short-term pain relief, but this also does not address the underlying cause.
When it comes to looking for a source of immediate sciatic nerve pain relief, here at the Center, I can offer specific home exercises, stretches, and spinal rehabilitation that can relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, but I don’t just want to provide immediate relief; I want to provide long-term relief by addressing its root cause.
When designing treatment plans for scoliosis, no two plans will ever be the same because they are 100-percent customized to address the specifics of the patient and their condition.
If a lumbar scoliosis patient is suffering from sciatica, I will use a variety of therapies to help provide relief, while integrating those disciplines into a treatment plan that also relies on scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments, and other forms of treatment, to address the condition on a structural level.
Through an integrative approach combining scoliosis-specific treatment disciplines such as in-office therapy, custom-prescribed home exercises, chiropractic care, and corrective bracing, scoliosis, along with any related complications such as sciatica, can be addressed and treated proactively, before the condition progresses.
When it comes to sciatic nerve pain, there are many potential causes. From disc deterioration to bone spurs, spinal stenosis and scoliosis, the function and overall health of the spine can affect the body in a number of ways.
If sciatica is left untreated, particularly if its cause is related to a progressive spinal condition like scoliosis, the condition can worsen over time and lead to future mobility issues.
As the sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and its pathway extends down the buttocks, the back of the legs, and to the feet, if the nerve is pinched, it can cause pain felt anywhere along that pathway.
It’s important to understand the nature of radiating pain as it can be felt far from its point of origin, making it difficult for people to determine its source.
When sciatica is caused by the uneven pressure introduced to the spine and its surroundings by scoliosis, in order to provide long-term pain relief, the root cause of sciatica, the scoliosis itself, has to be addressed proactively.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, I approach treatment for a number of spinal conditions by acknowledging the difference between treating a condition’s symptom, or the actual condition itself; this is an important distinction to understand because while traditional treatment can offer medication for immediate pain relief, it will do nothing to address the structural nature of scoliosis, which is the underlying cause of related sciatic nerve pain.
Through a variety of scoliosis-specific therapies, custom-prescribed exercises, corrective bracing, and focused chiropractic adjustments, sciatic nerve pain can be proactively addressed while the condition at the root of its development is being treated effectively on a structural level.
If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing any of the aforementioned sciatica symptoms, proactive treatment that addresses the condition’s underlying cause is always the best choice, particularly in terms of preventing worsening symptoms.
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Dr. Tony Nalda
Doctor of Chiropractic
Severe migraines as a young teen introduced Dr. Nalda to chiropractic care. After experiencing life changing results, he set his sights on helping others who face debilitating illness through providing more natural approaches.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in psychology and his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University, Dr. Nalda settled in Celebration, Florida and proceeded to build one of Central Florida’s most successful chiropractic clinics.
His experience with patients suffering from scoliosis, and the confusion and frustration they faced, led him to seek a specialty in scoliosis care. In 2006 he completed his Intensive Care Certification from CLEAR Institute, a leading scoliosis educational and certification center.
About Scoliosis Reduction Center
Welcome to Scoliosis Reduction Center. Our team, under the leadership of Dr. Tony Nalda, is focused on treating your scoliosis in the most patient-centered, effective manner possible.