Sciatica Pain Management in Knoxville, TNSciatica is a type of lower back pain that extends to the leg. The term goes back all the way to ancient times when the Greeks and Egyptians made the connection between leg pain and issues in the spine. It derives from the Greek word “ischios”, meaning “hip”. In this article, we will discuss the various causes of sciatica, learn to recognize its symptoms, and explore treatment options in Knoxville.
What is sciatica?A 2007 review article published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia estimates that 5%-10% of lower back pain patients have sciatica. Sciatic pain is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, rather than a complete diagnosis on its own. Sciatica is an irritation of the longest and thickest nerve in the body – the sciatic nerve. It originates from 5 nerve roots at the lower portion of your spine that join together and run through your buttocks, thighs, legs, and feet. The sciatic nerves (one on each side) are responsible for sensation and muscle movement in these areas of your body. The term “sciatica” is used to describe any pain and other neurological symptoms that are the result of damage, compression, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It is also known as lumbar radiculopathy which simply means a pinched nerve at the bottom section of the spine.
What causes sciatica?There are many causes of sciatica, the most common being:
- Herniated disc – the soft center of the disc between the bones of your spine (vertebrae) can bulge or leak out, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. This accounts for over 90% of sciatica cases.
- Lumbar stenosis – the opening of the spinal canal that the sciatic nerve is extending from becomes abnormally narrow, pinching the nerve.
- Osteoarthritis – a degenerative disease that causes joints to wear down as a part of aging. Sometimes extra bone grows around the affected joint, which can compress the sciatic nerve.
- Pregnancy – hormonal changes cause the ligaments to become stretchy, compromising the stability of the spine. The weight of the growing baby can also put pressure on the nerve.
- Lower back injury
How common is sciatica?According to the aforementioned 2007 review article, by various estimates, between 10% to 40% of people will experience sciatic pain in their lifetime. Around 1%-5% are suffering from it every year. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 40 to 60. Your risk of getting sciatica is higher if you:
- Are overweight
- Have previously had a back injury
- Have a highly demanding physical job
- Have diabetes
What are the symptoms of sciatica?Sciatica symptoms include sharp, shooting pain, tingling sensation, numbness, and, less commonly, muscle weakness. The symptoms can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet depending on which sciatic nerve roots are affected. Leg pain is usually more pronounced than back pain. Sciatica typically affects just one side of the body but it is possible to have it on both sides. The pain is exacerbated by sneezing, coughing, twisting, bending, or prolonged sitting. Rarely, Omega Pain Management doctors in Knoxville see sciatica accompanied by other symptoms that indicate a serious condition. It’s important to see a doctor urgently if you experience:
- a sudden increase in pain levels
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- unexpected weight loss
How is sciatica diagnosed?Diagnosing sciatica is the first step in uncovering the condition that triggered it. A doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. The most common diagnostic test for sciatic pain is the straight leg test. As the patient lies face up, the doctor raises the affected leg until the pain is reproduced. In more severe cases, imaging tests might be indicated to pinpoint the underlying cause. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help the doctor check for herniated discs, joint inflammation, or tumors. A discogram test identifies abnormalities in the structure of the intervertebral discs by injecting a contrast dye into the tissues.
How is sciatica treated?For many people, sciatica usually improves within 4 to 6 weeks with some simple measures:
- Applying heat to reduce pain
- Applying an ice pack to reduce inflammation
- Over-the-counter painkillers, for example, Ibuprofen or Naproxen
- Gentle stretching exercises
- Physical therapy to strengthen the spine and the core muscles
- Steroid injections that carry an anti-inflammatory steroid medication combined with a local anesthetic straight to the sciatic nerve roots.
ConclusionSciatica is a common debilitating condition that is most often caused by a herniated disc compressing the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain can be a symptom of several other conditions, a few of which can be serious. Usually, the symptoms can be improved within a few weeks with self-care treatments such as painkillers, heat/ice packs, and stretching. Prevention techniques, such as exercising and maintaining good posture, are important in minimizing the risk of getting sciatica. If you think that you have sciatica and it is not improving, contact your doctor for help with controlling the pain and preventing symptom progression.
Sciatica Treatment in Knoxville, TNOmega Pain Management clinic is one of the leading pain clinics in Knoxville, TN. Dr. Igor Smelyansky, AKA “Dr Igor” is one of very few truly comprehensive pain specialists in the greater Knoxville area It’s time for you to take control of your sciatic nerve pain permanently. For sciatica pain relief in Knoxville, TN call 865-337-5137 TODAY! Click on the following links if you want to find out more about Dr. Igor Smelyansky and Omega Pain Management Clinic.
Ostelo RW. Physiotherapy management of sciatica. J Physiother. 2020 Apr;66(2):83-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2020.03.005. Epub 2020 Apr 11. PMID: 32291226.
Koes BW, van Tulder MW, Peul WC. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. BMJ. 2007 Jun 23;334(7607):1313-7. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39223.428495.BE. PMID: 17585160; PMCID: PMC1895638.
Stafford MA, Peng P, Hill DA. Sciatica: a review of history, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and the role of epidural steroid injection in management. Br J Anaesth. 2007 Oct;99(4):461-73. doi: 10.1093/bja/aem238. Epub 2007 Aug 17. PMID: 17704089.