When your sciatic nerve is irritated, you may experience pain and other sensations not only at the site of the irritation, but virtually anywhere along the path of the nerve. Dr. Christopher Sinclair, neurologist with Suffolk Brain and Nerve in Port Jefferson Station, New York, can diagnose the causes of sciatica and help you with treatment and pain management plans. Call the office, or request an appointment by booking online today.
A collection of sensations related to irritations of the sciatic nerve, sciatica typically causes pain in the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, with numbness or tingling sensations down through the legs. Usually, only one side of your body is affected at a time.
Pain from sciatica can be quite intense, but in most cases, rest and pain management can restore you to daily function, and symptoms usually go away on their own in a few weeks. However, there are some instances where the effects on the sciatic nerve can cause serious complications, such as bowel and bladder function. In extreme cases, surgical intervention may be needed to relieve sciatic nerve irritation.
Sciatic pain typically radiates from the lower lumbar region of your spine, with sensations felt down one leg. It’s possible to feel pain, discomfort, numbness or tingling anywhere along the sciatic nerve’s path, but through your buttock to the back of your thigh is perhaps the most common pattern.
The pain itself can range from a mild, dull ache to sharp burning or electrical sensations. Sitting for long periods may aggravate the pain, and coughing or sneezing may cause jolting pain sensations. You could develop several different sensations and even muscle weakness along the path of the sciatic nerve.
The most common cause of sciatica is crowding of the nerve due to a herniated spinal disk. Bone growths called spurs may also reduce the space in which the sciatic nerve passes. Other, less common causes include tumors or nerve damage due to disease, such as diabetes.
Often, it’s possible to control pain and mobility issues from sciatica using self-care techniques such as yoga or stretching, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen. Combined with rest and hot and cold compresses, you may be able to ride out an attack of sciatica without a doctor’s visit.
If home care doesn’t get you better, Dr. Sinclair may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or other pain relief medications. Some anti-seizure or antidepressant medications may also help with sciatic nerve issues, even if you’re not subject to seizures or depression.