Sciatica is a painful condition that affects many Americans. The sciatica nerve runs from the lower back down to each leg. If it becomes irritated, the pain can travel along where the nerves lie and cause other nerve compression symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, and tingling.
If sciatica becomes a problem, an orthopedic spine surgeon can assess your symptoms and determine the most appropriate treatment. In this article, we will explore the causes, diagnosis, and modern treatments for sciatica, as well as where you can go in Rochester Hills, MI for sciatica treatment.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica typically occurs when the sciatic nerve, which helps move your legs and feel sensation in them, becomes compressed or irritated.
There are several causes of sciatica, some of the most common being:
- Herniated Disc: A herniated disc in the lumbar spine can press against the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal, a condition called spinal stenosis, can put pressure on the nerves, including the sciatic nerve.
- Piriformis Syndrome: The piriformis muscle, located in the buttocks, can sometimes become tight or spasm, irritating the sciatic nerve that runs underneath it.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: As the discs between the vertebrae in the spine degenerate over time, they can bulge or rupture, causing compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Trauma or Injury: In some cases, sciatica may result from a traumatic event or injury that affects the spine or surrounding tissues.
How is Sciatica Diagnosed?
The doctor may use different methods for diagnosing sciatica. Some of the techniques used are:
- Reviewing your medical history to learn about your health risks
- Performing a physical exam to evaluate your strength, weakness, and range of motion
- Ordering X-rays to visualize the structure of the spine and identify any abnormalities
- Performing a myelogram, which involves injecting a contrast dye into the spinal canal to provide detailed images of the spinal cord and nerves
- Ordering an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the spine, helping to identify nerve compression and other issues
- Ordering a CT scan (Computed Tomography), which produces cross-sectional images of the spine, providing detailed information about bones and soft tissues
- Ordering an Electromyography (EMG), which measures the electrical activity of muscles and nerves to assess nerve damage or compression
- Conducting a nerve conduction study, which evaluates the speed and strength of electrical signals as they travel along the nerves, helping to identify nerve damage or dysfunction
Modern Treatments for Sciatica
Fortunately, there are many modern treatment options available to alleviate sciatica symptoms and promote healing.
Treatments are individualized to the patient and may include:
- Pain-Relieving Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce sciatica pain and inflammation.
- Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the epidural space can relieve inflammation and provide lasting sciatica pain relief.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises, stretches, and techniques, which improve flexibility, strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, and alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Heat or Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area can help manage sciatica pain.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Making changes such as eating a nutritious diet and increasing physical activity can help in managing sciatica symptoms.
- Surgery: In severe cases or when nonsurgical treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention may be recommended to relieve compression on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica can significantly impact your quality of life, but with a proper diagnosis and modern treatments available today, you can find relief. Consult with an experienced orthopedic spine surgeon to determine the best course of action based on your sciatica pain.
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in Rochester Hills, MI
Dr. Bradley Ahlgren at Ahlgren Spine is an board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon experienced in sciatica treatment. Dr. Ahlgren offers proven and modern treatments for sciatica in a patient-friendly environment.
To find out your treatment options, call our office today at (248) 215-8080 or use our convenient online form. We look forward to providing you with the best treatments for sciatica.