The term sciatica describes several symptoms that occur when your sciatic nerve becomes inflamed.
You have a sciatic nerve that begins on each side of your lower spine and runs deep inside your buttocks, through your legs, and ends in your feet. These nerves are the largest single nerves in your entire body and connect your spinal cord with the muscles in your feet and legs.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
If your sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, it causes a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms like pain, tingling, and numbness. In most cases, sciatica is easy for Dr. Lloydine Jacobs to diagnose because the pain you’re experiencing radiates along the path of your sciatic nerve.
When you have sciatica, it only affects one side of your body. The pain it causes can vary, but typically sharp, burning, or like jolts of electricity. If you’re suffering from sciatica, it’s also common for things like sneezing, coughing, or sitting for long periods to worsen your symptoms.
Ignoring sciatica can cause irreversible nerve damage.
What causes sciatica symptoms?
You can develop an inflamed sciatic nerve for a variety of reasons, including spinal issues like herniated discs or bone spurs. Other factors that increase your risk of sciatica symptoms include:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Prolonged periods of sitting
- Being overweight or obese
- Having conditions like diabetes that can cause nerve damage
Certain occupations can also trigger or aggravate your sciatic nerve. These jobs usually involve a lot of heavy lifting, long periods of driving, or back twisting.
How is sciatica diagnosed and treated?
To treat your sciatica, Dr. Lloydine Jacobs conducts a full physical examination to identify the cause of your sciatic nerve inflammation. Based on your diagnosis, she creates a personalized approach to relieve your symptoms and reduce your inflammation.
Common sciatica treatments include:
- Prescriptions like muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and pain relievers
- Hot and cold compresses
- Massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and physical therapy
- Steroid injections or nerve blocks
- Regenerative spine and joint injections
- Minimally invasive spinal surgery
In addition to medical treatments for sciatica, Dr. Lloydine Jacobs might also recommend lifestyle changes designed to improve your posture and body mechanics, nutritional counseling for weight management, and/or more physical activity to improve your back health.