Understanding Sciatica And Knowing When To Visit A Doctor

February 18th, 2020 Becki Andrus

Your spinal cord advances from the stem of your brain and proceeds downward to your lower back. It is also contained within your spinal column, and it consists of 33 bones. These bones are also referred to as the vertebrae, and they are distributed along your spinal cord in four sections. Your cervical vertebrae are contained in your neck, while the thoracic vertebrae can be found in your upper back. The sacral vertebrae are located in the pelvis, while the lumbar vertebrae are contained in the lower back.

Your vertebrae are also padded by discs that are located within every region of your spine. They provide you with flexibility, while also supplying a cushion of protection between each of your bones. Unfortunately, you can experience a degeneration of your discs, which can eventually lead to other health issues.

Disc degeneration can occur as you undergo the aging process, and one of the issues that can develop is an actual movement of the disc. If that takes place, the disc can push into the spinal canal, which will eventually place pressure on the nerves that surround it. If that process emerges, then it can lead directly to other issues.

What Causes Sciatica

When a portion of your disc emerges through the spinal canal, it is referred to as a herniated disc. While this process can occur within any portion of your back, the majority of herniated discs are located in the lower back. Five of your vertebrae are located in your lower back, which is also referred to as your lumbar spine. Whenever a herniated disc develops in your lumbar spine, it can lead to a condition that is called sciatica.

This is a form of back pain that is located along the sciatic nerve, which progresses from your lower back into your hips and continues downward to each of your legs. When this nerve is impacted by pressure from a herniated disc that is contained in your lower spine, it will create discomfort that spreads along the path of the sciatic nerve.  

Symptoms Of Sciatica

It is possible to have a herniated disc without experiencing pain. However, this will only occur if the disc is not touching a nerve. But if a nerve is impacted through contact with the disc, then you could experience discomfort that feels similar to a leg cramp that creates sharp pain.

In other cases, individuals might experience numbness or a tingling going sensation down the leg. In some cases, inflammation and numbness can also emerge in the are that has been affected by the herniated disc. Some patients will also experience pain on one side of their buttocks, or deal with discomfort when they attempt to stand.

What A Doctor Will Do

If you are encountering severe pain then it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that have been discussed, then you should visit a physician.

His or her diagnosis will determine whether you are suffering from sciatica. Your visit will include a series of questions regarding the specifics of your situation. This will involve a discussion of your symptoms, along with any events that might have occurred prior to any discomfort.

Your doctor will also inquire about your medical history, and the history concerning members of your family. He or she might also order x-rays, CT-Scans or MRIs, which will further indicate the source of your symptoms.

Treatment For Sciatica

Fortunately, many patients that are dealing with sciatica will find their condition improving over time without any need for surgery. or the use of medication over a long period of time.

If your physician has recommended this non-surgical approach, your treatment plan could easily include a combination of heat and ice, along with anti-inflammatory medication.

Your physician might recommend physical therapy. If that becomes part of your treatment plan, it will involve stretches and movements that are designed to reduce the pressure on your nerve, while also refining your posture.

A routine that includes walking might also be suggested since this basic exercise will diminish the degree of inflammation. In some situations, your doctor might recommend a Cortisone injection into your spinal area, with the goal of reducing your discomfort.

If your pain lingers for a period of at least three months, or if you are also contending with bowel or bladder issues that accompany the pain, then it will increase the likelihood that your physician will recommend surgery. If that occurs, it could involve the removal of the herniated disc that is creating pressure on your nerve.

Following surgery, you will probably be provided with a program of strengthening exercises that will clear the path toward your involvement in normal day-to-day activities once again.

At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that were described previously, or you have any questions about herniated discs or any other issues in the back, we encourage you to visit us at Orthopedic Associates. Our collection of board-certified doctors can provide vast knowledge that can only result from their combined 183 years of experience. This includes our veteran team of neck and back specialists, whose expertise and dedication are beneficial toward his ability to design an effective plan of treatment for a wide range of conditions.

Our specialists at Orthopedic Associates treat a wide range of neck conditions, including:

  • Anatomy Of The Spine
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Coccydynia
  • Compression Fractures of the Spine
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet Joint Syndrome
  • Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
  • Kyphosis
  • Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
  • Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Myelopathy
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess
  • Spinal Infection
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Where Lower Back Pain Begins
  • Where Neck Pain Begins
  • Whiplash

Our specialists are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the back including:

  • Non Surgical Procedures
  • Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections
  • Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy
  • Cervical Selective Nerve Root Block
  • Cervical Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Costovertebral Joint Injection
  • Discography
  • Facet Joint Injections
  • Fluoroscopic Guided Piriformis injection
  • Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
  • Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection (without contrast)
  • Lumbar Sympathetic Block
  • Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection
  • Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI)
  • Medial Branch Block
  • Medial Branch Block (Cervical)
  • Myelography (Myelogram)
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Cervical Facets
  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Lumbar Facets
  • Sacroiliac Joint Steroid Injection
  • Thoracic Epidural Steroid Injection
  • Surgical Procedures
  • ALIF: Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion
  • Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
  • Anterior Endoscopic Cervical Microdiscectomy
  • Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement
  • Cervical Posterior Foraminotomy
  • Endoscopic-Assisted Lumbar Interbody Fusion (Transforaminal)
  • Interspinous Process Decompression
  • Intrathecal Pump Implant
  • Kyphoplasty (Balloon Vertebroplasty)
  • Laminectomy
  • Lumbar Corpectomy
  • Lumbar Disc Microsurgery
  • Lumbar Pedicle Screw Fixation
  • Minimally-Invasive TLIF (Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion)
  • PLIF: Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion
  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Lumar Facets
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant
  • Spinal Fusion (Lumbar)
  • Spine Stabilization System
  • TLIF: Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion
  • Total Disc Replacement
  • Vertebral Augmentation
  • Vertebral Body Replacement (VBR)
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Visit one of the Orthopedic Associates’ two locations or request an appointment today to be on your way to feeling better.

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