Sciatica Treatments at Maimonides Spine Center in Brooklyn, NY
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Sciatica is a term used to refer to any kind of pain or neurological symptoms (such as numbness and tingling) felt by the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body.
The sciatic nerve is actually a combination of five nerves that start in the spine and come together to form one large nerve (the sciatic nerve). The sciatic nerve plays the important role of connecting the spinal cord with the muscles of the legs and feet, supplying sensation and strength to these areas and making movement possible.
The sciatic nerve starts in the lower spine and extends all the way down the back of the leg and into the toes. Other nerves in the lower spine feed into the sciatic nerve—this is why a problem with any of the nerves in the lower spine can be detected by the sciatic nerve.
Most people experience some combination of the following sciatica symptoms:
Pain that starts in the low back/buttock and travels down the back of the thigh and into the lower leg and sometimes into the foot. Most people describe as searing or sharp, rather than dull or achy; many also report that their subsides when lying down or walking and gets worse when standing or sitting.
Constant pain in one side of the buttock or in one leg.
Shooting pain in one leg.
Tingling sensation, numbness, or weakness the leg.
Weakness or numbness when moving the leg or foot.
Given the anatomical structure of the sciatic nerve and how it “communicates” with other nerves, there are many possible causes of sciatica. Some of the most common include:
A herniated disc: When one of the cushioning discs between the vertebrae in the lumbar (lower) spine becomes compressed, the soft inner material of the disc can leak out (herniate); this can irritate the nerve root, which can be felt by the sciatic nerve. (Other terms used to refer to a herniated disc are slipped disc, bulging disc, and pinched nerve in lower back).
Spinal stenosis: This is when the spinal canal becomes narrowed, which can compress nerves in the lumbar spine, causing sciatica symptoms. It’s more common in adults age 60 and older.
Spondylolisthesis: This is a slippage of the vertebral body that can cause back pain and associated nerve compression that can cause buttock and leg pain.
Other common causes of sciatica are degenerative disc disease, irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle in the buttocks (called piriformis syndrome), and others. Less common causes include muscle strain, chronic inflammation around the spine (ankylosing spondylitis), spinal tumors, and others.
For most people, sciatica goes away on its own in a few days or weeks, with minimal or no treatment. For others, the pain and other symptoms persist.
Sciatica specialists generally start by prescribing nonsurgical sciatica pain treatments, which can include anti-inflammatory medications and alternating heat/ice (for acute pain). People with severe pain may need an epidural steroid injection (ESI), which helps reduce inflammation.
Once the pain is addressed, physical therapy and special exercises can help prevent recurring episodes of sciatica. Surgery may be needed in cases where an anatomical problem (such as a herniated disc) is compressing a nerve and causing sciatica.
Sciatica Specialists at Maimonides Medical Center
The expert sciatica doctors at Maimonides provide customized solutions for people with herniated discs at our state-of-the-art facility in Brooklyn, NY. Relief from herniated disc pain is possible.
Maimonides Spine Center is conveniently located at 6010 Bay Parkway, 8th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11204.