A Common Nerve Disorder
Sciatic nerve pain is a type of nerve pain that originates in the lower lumbar spine and travels down the leg. The pain is described as electric and can cause numbness and tingling that radiates down the leg into the foot or toes. Commonly only one leg is affected.
Various factors can cause sciatica, such as disc prolapse, arthritis, obesity, and pregnancy.People who sit for long periods of time also can exhibit symptoms. It is important to consult one of our West Michigan Pain specialists to determine the exact cause of the pain, as it may not originate in the area where the pain is felt.
Anatomy of the Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is found behind the buttocks and continues down the back of the leg. It is formed by a combination of two or three different neurons. The sciatic nerve further divides into two major nerves in the leg. Irritation of these nerves in the lower lumbar spine can cause sciatic pain that often shoots down the leg like an electric current.
Symptoms of Sciatica
- Dull or sharp pain that radiates from the back down the leg
- Loss of sensation or numbness
- Difficulty moving
Causes of Sciatica
- Degenerative disc disorder
- Lumbar Canal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Age – Sciatica is most commonly seen in people 45 – 64 years of age.
- Strenuous physical activity like frequent lifting – especially while bending and twisting.
- Driving for long periods of time as it vibrates the whole body.
Identifying the Source of Sciatic Pain
One of our West Michigan Pain specialists can accurately diagnose your sciatic pain using special testing methods. Those include: MRI, or an electrodiagnostic study. West Michigan Pain’s Dr. Roman Zolotoy, DO, says an electrodiagnostic study, or nerve conduction studies, can help determine if you are experiencing sciatica while ruling out similar conditions.
“Pain in one area doesn’t always mean the problem is right there,” says Dr. Zolotoy. “Persistent pressure on the nerve in the spine for three weeks or more can cause changes in the nerve. An electrodiagnostic study can document and locate the electrical changes in the nerve, so we can better determine the extent of the nerve damage or pressure.”
There are a number of options for treatment for people who suffer the effects of sciatica. Methods range in the short-term from massage, and medications that control pain, to stretching exercises that stabilize the spine and release pressure on the nerve. A combination of rest, heat, ice pack use (several times a day for 20 minutes) over-the-counter medications, and physical therapy can also help. In some cases, injections and surgical methods may be necessary. It is essential to consult your doctor or one of the Pain Specialists at West Michigan Pain to determine proper diagnosis and treatment.