Sciatica is also called ischias or sciatic neuritis – but regardless of what you call it, they all mean one thing: radiating, shooting pains in the lower back and down one leg.
Sciatic pain is most frequently caused by a herniated disc in the lower back, and the disc material is pressing against the sciatic nerve. This nerve branches off the spine and runs down the buttocks (both sides), down the leg, and to the foot. Sciatica can also be caused by a bone spur or by spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine which can cause compression of the sciatic nerve.
The level of back pain reported by affected persons varies from a mild ache to excruciating sharp pain. The sensations can resemble an electric shock or a jolt, and it is often aggravated by sitting for long periods of time.
How Can Sciatic Back Pain Be Treated?
The treatment for chronic sciatic pain depends upon its cause. Certain over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to treat mild sciatica; more severe sciatic pain may require injections to help keep the pain under control.
Some people have reported success from chiropractic treatments, massage therapy, or acupuncture. Only in severe cases of long-term sciatica (lasting longer than a couple of months) are surgical measures considered.
In cases where surgery is performed, the orthopedic surgeon may remove a portion of the intervertebral discs, called a discectomy. Only about 5% of all cases of sciatica require surgery.
Prevention of Sciatica
Heavy lifting should be avoided in order to not put too much pressure on the lower back. Maintaining a moderate exercise program can help quell the inflammation.
For people who have experienced sciatic back pain in the past, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. These methods help to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve:
- Maintain a proper posture when sitting, standing, or walking
- Keep your back straight and do not slouch
- Practice safe lifting methods: Bend at the knees to and from a squat, and keep the back straight
- Never bend over to pick up a heavy object
When carrying an object, holding it close to the body reduces strain on the lower back. The further away from the body an object is being held, the greater the strain it puts on the tissues and structures of the back.
Always use a quality chair that provides proper lower lumbar support. Sitting too long on a stool or on an uncomfortable chair can compress the spinal discs, thereby increasing the potential for sciatica flare-ups. If you regularly sit on a chair that does not provide adequate lumbar support, a cushioned lumbar roll can be added to help correct your posture while seated.
Back Pain Doctors in Austin
If sciatica is affecting your life and is causing chronic back pain, consult with a skilled pain-management physician. Our experienced doctors here at Balcones Pain Consultants specialize in treating spinal conditions and back pain, and we are trained in finding the root cause of what is causing your symptoms.
If you are in the Austin area, get treatment for your back pain from the region’s leading pain specialists. Call us today at (512) 834-4141 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you get back to the more pain-free, active lifestyle you enjoy.