Sciatica is a common and broad symptom shared by thousands of patients who rely on Florida Orthopaedic Institute for relief. Sciatica is a term for discomfort that runs down the leg. The pain comes from the sciatic nerve which extends from the lower spine, through the pelvis, and down each of your legs. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in your body. Sciatica can be felt as sharp pain and may be accompanied by burning, stabbing or spasms or may be felt in the form of numbness, tingling, and weakness. All these symptoms are included in the term “sciatica”. Sciatica is not a specific diagnosis but rather a symptom of what is going on.
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. Injuries or pressure on the sciatic nerve causes pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip, buttocks, and leg.
An x-ray of your lower (lumbar) spine is the first step in diagnosing what is causing the symptoms of sciatica. The x-ray determines if there is a problem associated with inappropriate movement of your bones or their alignment. An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), a more sophisticated x-ray technology, is sometimes used in conjunction with x-rays to provide a better picture of the soft tissues of your spine.
Reviewing the x-ray and MRI together will assist us in determining what’s causing the pain which could be a disc herniation, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
In addition to x-rays, an MRI helps show the skeletal system and softer spinal structures to help diagnose issues causing sciatica.
SCIATICA IS VERY COMMON
Irritation of the sciatic nerve is a not uncommon. In the United States alone, it is estimated to affect more than 3 million cases each year. Below is a chart with the estimated number of affected individuals broken down by age group.
Discomfort can vary from mild to sharp to severe in the lower parts of the body including your back, hip, and buttocks. Other common symptoms include the sensation of being numb or having pins and needles in the legs. You may also experience a burning sensation, foot numbness, limping, muscle weakness, or overall lower body weakness.
As with any condition, treatment is dependent on the severity of the nerve’s complications. Self care can include administering ice packs to the affected areas to decrease swelling and ease the pain. Approved stretch activities can increase elasticity and enhance your overall physical function. Chiropractic adjustment of your spinal column can also ease pain. Medications, including over-the-counter non-steroidal (Ibuprofen, Naproxen) or an analgesic (e.g. Tylenol, Anacin, etc.) medicines, can lessen the pain and reduce inflammation. If the pain extends beyond 6 – 12 weeks, an epidural steroid injection can be administered to reduce high levels of pain.
Patients typically diagnosis problems associated with the sciatic nerve. Troublesome pain is treatable by an orthopaedic physician, and symptoms subside in a matter of months. If you are doing everything you’re directed to do and your pain continues, an operation is an option. The surgery would depend on your specific diagnosis and the extent of the damage.
Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s team of highly-trained experts are experienced in treating Sciatica. Our medical professionals goal is to ease each patient’s suffering and, ultimately, improve the quality of your life. Our physicians, chiropractors and physical therapy teams work together to tailor your care to ensure this goal.
If you, or a loved one, is experiencing discomfort associated with Sciatica, please reach out to us at 813.978.9797 to schedule a consultation with one of our experts.