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How to Manage Sciatica Pain

By Alyssa Martinez @ItsMariaAlyssa

Sciatica is a prevalent symptom of most patients visiting medical institutions. It would be best if you always got sciatica-like symptoms evaluated because they might be a sign of a severe underlying condition. At Spine & Joint Physicians of Frisco, S. Justin Badiyan MD helps patients find relief from their sciatic symptoms improving their activity and productivity.

The symptoms involve discomfort that goes down the leg. The discomfort can be felt as pain, sharp, burning, stabbing spasms, or numbness and tingling that goes down the leg, which can cause weakness. All of these can be encompassed in the term sciatica, which in itself is not a diagnosis, but just a symptom of what is going on in a patient's body.

Diagnosis of sciatica

In the diagnosis to determine what is causing the symptom sciatica, the first mainstay is an X-ray of the lumbar spine. Through the X-ray results, your doctor can observe the bones to see if there is inappropriate movement or that the bones are not lined up correctly.

Eventually, your doctor may require an MRI, which is good for looking at the spine's soft tissues involving the discs and other soft tissues like ligaments. In conjunction with the X-rays, MRIs can help your doctor determine the root cause of your sciatica.

Possible reasons for your sciatica

Sciatica is where the bone disc presses on the nerve in the lumbar spine, which affects the nerve's functioning, causing pain or changes in sensory or motor ability down the leg. However, it is not always the disc that causes those changes to the nerve. You can have restrictions of movement where the nerve exits the spine.

Tethering or adhesions along the pathway of that nerve can also restrict it and affect the nerve's ability which produces sciatic-like symptoms.

Compression from soft tissue, such as muscle. Sitting in an awkward position or on your wallet can again compress that nerve and cause sciatica.

There is also double compression syndrome, where two points along that channel that the nerve runs are restricted and the combination of the restrictions causes sciatica.

Treatment of sciatica

The vast majority of patients who have pain that goes down the leg get better on their own.

For patients who experience pain early on, before six weeks, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to work on core strengthening and stretching exercises, helping them with their pain. However, some patients have persistent symptoms that extend beyond the six or twelve-week mark. For those patients, doctors will try to eliminate some of the pain they are experiencing by tackling the root cause, for example, inflammation around the nerve. There are many ways to relieve this type of pain, one of the ways being the use of an epidural steroid injection. However, if the pain comes back down their leg and the patient is not doing well after therapy or epidural steroid injections, those 15-20% of patients may do well with an operation. The operation depends on the diagnosis that they have and will involve a discussion with their physician about what they hope to achieve from the procedure.

Contact the office of Dr. Badiyan by phone to learn how you can best manage your sciatic symptoms.

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