Pain originating from your lower back and traveling down your thigh may be sciatica. The pain can be debilitating and may worsen after standing or sitting for long periods, interfering with your daily activities. If you have symptoms of sciatica, your Brooklyn NY wellness center at Zephyr Medical can help you determine the cause and offer treatment.
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Sciatica is the excruciating pain from an injury to your sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in your body. It is rare to get a sciatic nerve injury, but any pain originating from your lower back and traveling down your legs is known as sciatica. The pain manifests as a compression, pinching, inflammation, or irritation of a nerve in the lower back. Some patients describe the pain as burning, electric, or stabbing, while others describe it as shooting pain. The pain may be constant or recurrent and may be more severe in your leg than in your lower back. It may also deteriorate after standing or sitting for long periods. In addition to pain, you may experience numbness in your leg, tingling sensations, and muscle weakness in your foot.
Factors contributing to sciatica
Sciatica can occur due to various reasons, including:
Degenerative disc disease
Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers, enabling you to move around comfortably. As you age, your discs become dehydrated and lose flexibility, making them prone to tears and cracks, which can cause them to shorten in height, making nerve passageways narrower, a condition known as spinal stenosis. This narrowing can pinch your sciatica nerve roots, resulting in nerve pain.
Your lower back is responsible for carrying your upper body weight and facilitating various movements, making your discs vulnerable to injury. This injury can cause the inner softcore of your discs to protrude, pushing against the annulus fibrosus. The soft material may also tear the fibrous rings and leak out, causing the inflammation of your sciatic nerve roots.
Spondylolisthesis, basically known as vertebral slippage, can occur at any age. It can be due to hairline fractures in your spine or a defect in your vertebral bone. Excessive weight gain or carrying heavy objects may cause one vertebra to slip over the other, compressing your spinal nerve roots and causing pain.
Piriformis is a gluteal muscle located over your sciatic nerve. An injury, irritation, or inflammation of this muscle due to prolonged sitting, walking, or falls can result in sciatica. If the inflammation is on the piriformis muscle only, the pain may originate from your buttocks and travel down your thigh but not beyond your knee.
Available treatments for sciatica
The Zephyr Medical specialists will perform a thorough medical exam to determine the underlying trigger of your pain before developing a personalized treatment plan. If you have mild to moderate pain, they may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and adjusting your physical activities to alleviate your symptoms. If you have severe pain, your provider may suggest epidural injections. These injections consist of an epidural and an anesthetic which minimize inflammation and nerve pain.
The team also offers treatments for the underlying triggers of sciatica, including lumbar disc gel sublimation, which involves injections into your discs to shrink them and relieve pressure on your spinal nerves. They also offer lumbar decompression, which can help remove thickened ligaments from your back.
If you experience consistent or recurrent pain that radiates from your back down your leg, call the Zephyr Medical office or book your spot online for diagnosis and treatment.