Sciatica is a condition marked by chronic pain along the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back through your buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica usually only affects one side of your body, and the pain can be severe. Most cases of sciatica subside after a few weeks, but in some cases, symptoms can persist.
The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain starting in your lower back that radiates downward. If you have sciatica, you can experience pain along any part of your sciatic nerve, including your buttocks, the back of your thighs, or your calves.
Sciatica pain can be mild or marked by severe burning pain or an electric shock sensation. Sudden movements, or even coughing or sneezing, can exacerbate symptoms. Pain can reach as far down as your ankles and feet and may lead to numbness, making it difficult for you to walk.
Sciatica occurs as a result of a pinched nerve. When your sciatic nerve gets compressed, it’s usually caused by a herniated disk in your spine or by a bone spur, an overgrowth of bone, on your vertebrae. Pregnancy complications and muscle spasms can also cause sciatica.
Here are some risk factors that increase your chances of getting sciatica:
Dr. Harwood performs a comprehensive physical examination and asks you questions about your symptoms and triggers. He reviews your medical history, and in some cases, may take X-rays.
Dr. Harwood advises you on how to balance rest with activity. He may suggest hot and cold therapy or prescription pain medications like anti-inflammatories to relieve inflammation that may be irritating the sciatic nerve. Other treatments may include physical therapy, massage, and muscle relaxants to help alleviate back pain caused by muscle tension.
Most of the time sciatica resolves after a few weeks of treatment. In rare cases that cause more severe symptoms, such as bowel problems, Dr. Harwood discusses surgical treatment options with you.
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