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What Is Sciatica And How Is It Treated?

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Most men and women will, undoubtedly, experience some form of back pain in their lifetime, but the cause, duration, and severity can vary greatly from person to person. For some people, degenerative disc disease can lead to chronic discomfort and weakness in the back, neck, or legs, while others may suffer from recurrent backaches due to strain or overuse. Because there is such a wide variety of behavioral, structural, genetic, and anatomic causes for aches and pains, it can often be difficult to pinpoint the reason you are experiencing certain symptoms. However, some conditions have telltale signs and symptoms that may help you and your doctor accurately identify the cause of your discomfort so that an effective treatment plan can be undertaken.

Sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, is one such issue that – when properly diagnosed – can point to an underlying problem or condition that can often be treated to provide quick and reliable relief for the patient. Dr. Christopher Williams and the exceptional team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta understand how frustrating and debilitating living with sciatic nerve pain can be and are committed to helping patients find relief through prompt, accurate diagnosis and the most effective, innovative treatment options.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica refers to the pain or discomfort a person experiences associated with a problem affecting their sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, which begins in the lower back and runs through the buttocks and down the upper leg. Sciatic pain can manifest itself in a variety of ways and locations, most often being described as a shooting pain in the lower back, down the backs of the legs, or in the buttocks. In some cases, sciatica may also be marked by numbness, tingling, or a loss of sensation in the lower legs and feet.

What causes sciatica?

There are multiple reasons that a person may begin to experience sciatica, all of which can be traced back to pressure on the sciatic nerve. Many people refer to sciatica as a pinched nerve in the lower back, and this is a fairly good general description of the problem. The most common issue that leads to this undue pressure or pinching of the sciatic nerve is a slipped or herniated disc. Our spines are made up of multiple vertebrae, between which lie discs made of cartilage. These discs help cushion the vertebrae and protect other structures. When a disc is pushed out of place, which can happen for a variety of reasons, it may compress the sciatic nerve and, ultimately, cause sciatica.

While this series of events can often occur as the result of injury or certain medical conditions, there are many cases when the root cause of sciatic nerve compression is not entirely clear. The best way to determine what may be causing your sciatica and how to treat it is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta.

How is sciatica pain treated?

The most appropriate treatment for sciatica will vary from patient to patient and depend on the cause, duration, and severity of his or her pain, as well as other factors. Some of the most common and effective sciatica pain treatment options include:

  • Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relief medications
  • Prescription pain medications
  • Alternating warm and cool compresses
  • Walking
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time
  • Regular mild exercise
  • Regular stretching
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

During your initial consultation at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, Dr. Williams will perform a thorough examination and take a detailed health history in order to accurately identify the underlying cause of your sciatica before recommending a customized treatment plan for you. In some cases, patients may be able to get relief from their sciatica pain using at-home remedies such as Ibuprofen, walking, and stretching, while patients who have chronic or severe sciatic nerve pain may require more extensive in-office therapies, including the innovative Regenexx® stem cell treatment system or surgery.

If you are suffering from lower back or leg pain and suspect it may be sciatica, the first step toward feeling better is to find out the cause of your pain and understand your treatment options. Call Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule a one-on-one consultation with orthopedic expert Dr. Christopher Williams today, and get relief from your sciatica pain once and for all!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.