Aarti A Singla, MD, MBA
Spine and Pain Management Specialist located in the Greater Cincinnati Area, West Chester and Anderson, OH
Sciatica Q & A
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is inflammation of the large nerve in your lower (lumbar) spine. The sciatic nerve exits the bottom of your spinal canal, goes through the piriformis muscle, branches into each of your hamstrings, then down to your calves and feet.
Symptoms of sciatica include pain or numbness in your buttock and thigh that might radiate down your leg and into your foot. You may also have weakness in your leg or foot and find walking and standing particularly painful.
Although this type of pain is typical of sciatica, you might instead have pseudosciatica, which causes similar symptoms.
What causes sciatica?
The nerve irritation or pinching of your sciatic nerve that triggers sciatica can develop for many reasons, including:
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Osteoarthritis in the spinal canal
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Spondylolisthesis (step-off deformity)
Pseudosciatica may be due to conditions like trochanteric bursitis, piriformis syndrome, or a type of neuropathy (pain originating in the nerves).
Dr. Singla can make a preliminary diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms by performing a careful physical exam and observing the movements that worsen or relieve your pain.
You might need to undergo X-rays or other diagnostic imaging tests to rule out problems like fractured vertebrae or tumors.
An MRI is one of the best methods of identifying the cause of sciatica, as it shows detailed images of even the smallest structural changes that are causing nerve compression.
What are the treatment options for sciatica?
Non-surgical treatments for sciatica include medications such as anti-inflammatories and oral steroids to reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants could also be helpful, and antiseizure medicines can help reduce nerve excitability.
Physical therapy is generally highly beneficial in treating sciatica. It helps correct muscle imbalances, improves the range of motion through your spine, and strengthens your core muscles. Dr. Singla works with skilled physical therapists to create the right treatment plan for you.
What can I do if my sciatica isn't improving?
Most patients with sciatica find that conservative treatments such as medication and physical therapy resolve their symptoms quite satisfactorily. However, if you don't experience a significant improvement using noninvasive therapies, Dr. Singla offers other cutting-edge options.
Examples include regenerative medicine injections and lumbar epidural steroid injections into your lower back. Dr. Singla uses fluoroscopic guidance to deliver these medications to the seat of your inflammation. Radiofrequency ablation and spinal cord stimulation might also be options for the most persistent cases.
Whether your shooting leg pain is due to sciatica or pseudosciatica, Dr. Singla provides the treatment you need to relieve your symptoms. To find out more or schedule a consultation, call Dr. Singla today or book an appointment online.