5 Telltale Signs that Your Back Pain Is Sciatica

5 Telltale Signs that Your Back Pain Is Sciatica

If you have pain that starts in your lower back and travels through your buttocks and down your outer leg, you may have sciatica, a compression of the sciatic nerve root in the lumbar spine.

Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. Its root lies in the spinal canal of the lumbar (lower back) spine, and it splits into two branches, one of which heads down your left leg and the other your right.

When the nerve becomes “pinched” or “impinged upon,” say from an injury, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, you feel pain, numbness, and/or a tingling sensation radiating from your spine to points anywhere along its length. 

The pain may be constant or intermittent, and it can feel mild or so severe you can’t put weight on the affected leg. The pain and symptoms together are known as sciatica.

At Coastal Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach, Florida, Dr. Patrick Brennan and our team specialize in treating back pain from many different sources, including sciatica. We offer a number of minimally invasive treatment options to relieve your pain and prevent the need for surgery. 

Here’s what we’d like you to know about sciatica.

What causes sciatica?

We’ve mentioned several possibilities for how sciatica gets started, but there are a few additional causes that bear stating.

Aging

As you get older, your entire body experiences age-related degeneration and that includes your spinal structures. Some of the most common causes of a pinched sciatic nerve are related to age:

The goal of treatment is to relieve the pressure on the nerve root from the impinging structure.

Being overweight or obese

Carrying excess weight stresses your entire body, including your spine. A 2014 study showed that for both women and men, there’s an association between being overweight or obese and developing sciatica. 

Engaging in regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help you shed pounds and decrease your pain, while at the same time boosting your cardiovascular and overall health.

Occupational hazards

If your work involves lifting heavy objects or routinely bending and twisting, you put additional stress on your spine and increase your risk for developing sciatica. 

Using appropriate back support at work and lifting from your legs, not from your back, can help prevent nerve impingement.

Telltale signs your back pain is sciatica

The pain you experience from sciatica may or may not be severe enough to get treatment, but if you learn to recognize the symptoms, you’ll know when to seek medical help. The five telltale symptoms of sciatica are:

You have two branches of the sciatic nerve, but generally you only experience symptoms on one side of your body. The condition is highly treatable, but if you don’t get medical help, you can experience permanent nerve damage. 

And in severe cases, you may develop loss of bladder or bowel function too.

Treating sciatica

Here at Coastal Pain Medicine, Dr. Brennan treats sciatica with a number of minimally invasive treatments.

Epidural steroid injections (EPIs)

EPIs deliver a short-acting anesthetic and a long-acting steroid medication into the spine’s epidural space to reduce pain and inflammation. Dr. Brennan uses fluoroscopy, real-time X-ray guidance technology, to ensure proper placement.

Radiofrequency (RF) lesioning

RF lesioning delivers low-current electrical energy to the sciatic nerve, creating a lesion that interferes with pain signals traveling from your spine to your brain.

Regenerative medicine

This technique harnesses the power of your body’s own ability to heal. Dr. Brennan uses stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to stimulate the production of healthy new nerve cells to replace damaged ones.

Physical therapy

Targeted exercises help to strengthen your back and core muscles and improve your range of motion.

If you’re experiencing any of the telltale signs of sciatica, it’s time to come into Coastal Pain Medicine for an evaluation and targeted treatment. To schedule, call our office at 954-833-8552, or book online with us today.

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