Suffering from Sciatica? What You Need to Know
The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, extending from the lower back through the hips and buttocks down to the upper leg. Sciatica refers to any pain associated with this nerve.
Because it controls the muscles in the back of the thigh, behind the knee, and through the sole of the foot, it makes sense that any issues with the sciatic nerve can cause a tremendous amount of discomfort. More than 3 million Americans suffer from sciatica pain every year, and San Antonians are no exception when it comes to seeking sciatica treatment. If you live in San Antonio, know that you have options for addressing your injury. Dr. Raul Martinez and his staff of Texas pain specialists are here to help you feel comfortable again.
The Causes of Sciatica Back Pain
If you are suffering from sciatica, figuring out what you need to know to alleviate pain can be difficult. Looking into what causes sciatic pain is a practical place to start because sciatica is not a medical condition—it is a symptom of a more significant problem. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, and the causes of sciatica almost always occur in the chronic and acute pain problem areas. There are a few reasons why this lower back and leg pain happens:
- Degenerative disc disease: Otherwise known as osteoarthritis of the spine, degenerative disc disease occurs when normal activities cause pain in the spine due to wear and tear on the discs that cushion the vertebrae. While there are treatments for degenerative disc disease, there is presently no cure.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the open spaces in the lumbar, or lower spine, lumbar spinal stenosis puts pressures on the spinal cord and the nerves within it.
- Herniated disc: A herniated disc (also called a ruptured disc or a slipped disc) occurs when pressure from the vertebrae above and below causes a tear in the outer layer of the vertebra, the annulus fibrosus, and pushes a soft, shock-absorbing gel called the nucleus pulposus into the spinal column—all of which puts pressure on the nerves near the disc.
- Muscle spasm: Muscle spasms, or cramps, happen when a muscle spontaneously and vigorously contracts and cannot relax. Muscle spasms tend to involve part or all of a muscle or different muscles within a group. They typically occur in the thighs, calves, foot arches, hands, arms, and abdomen, and many of these sites are close to the sciatic nerve.
- Pregnancy: The changing weight and shape of a pregnant body can put pressure on the lower back.
- Injury: Injuries like pelvic fractures may cause sciatica.
Residents of San Antonio who have experienced any of the above conditions and have sciatica should begin looking into sciatica pain relief options.
Common Symptoms of Sciatica
If you are trying to determine whether you are suffering from sciatica, you need to know some of its common symptoms, which include:
- Searing pain along the nerve, typically running from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down one leg
- Numbness along the sciatic nerve
- Tingling sensation in the feet and toes
- Discomfort along the nerve after sitting for an extended period
Most of these symptoms resolve themselves within 4-6 weeks with home treatment, such as over the counter pain relievers, stretching, light exercise, and compression packs. If your sciatica pain lasts longer than this, it is time to see a medical professional.
How a Doctor Can Help with Sciatica Pain Management
If your pain lasts longer than 6 weeks, is serious, or gets worse over time, you should reach out to a doctor. Dr. Martinez’s team of Texas pain specialists advises you to seek help immediately if the pain:
- Affects the use of your bowels or bladder
- Affects your ability to move or stand up
- Causes severe pain, muscle weakness, or numbness
- Follows a severe injury, like a car accident or fall
If you are suffering from sciatica, you need to know what your options for pain relief are. Steroid injections, nerve blocks, and other non-surgical options are a great place to start.
Relief Is Within Sight
The experienced doctors and professionals at Texas Pain Specialists understand how debilitating physical pain and discomfort can be. As a result, we have made it our mission to help others by alleviating their suffering. If you live in San Antonio and have prolonged or severe sciatica, we would like you to know that there are treatments out there for you. The physicians and Texas pain specialists with Dr. Martinez are in your corner waiting to hear from you. Contact us today.