Can Sciatica Be Cured
People with Sciatica always ask, Can sciatica be cured? The answer is, typically, with the appropriate treatment method, you may be able to consider sciatica pain an afterthought. Sciatica pain is a treatable condition, no matter how challenging it may seem.
Physicians can help you determine the cause of sciatica, and from there, you may be able to look into various forms of treatment programs. Most people respond well to natural treatment methods, depending on the probable cause of sciatic nerve compression and are symptom-free after a few treatment sessions. So, instead of living with sciatica pain, give some treatments a try.
How Is Sciatica Treated
The goal of treatment is to decrease your pain and increase your mobility. Depending on the cause, many cases of sciatica go away over time with some simple self-care treatments.
Self-care treatments include:
- Appling ice and/or hot packs: First, use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice packs or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to the affected area. Apply for 20 minutes, several times a day. Switch to a hot pack or a heating pad after the first several days. Apply for 20 minutes at a time. If youre still in pain, switch between hot and cold packs whichever best relieves your discomfort.
- Taking over-the-counter medicines: Take medicines to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. The many common over-the-counter medicines in this category, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen . Be watchful if you choose to take aspirin. Aspirin can cause ulcers and bleeding in some people. If youre unable to take NSAIDS, acetaminophen may be taken instead.
- Performing gentle stretches: Learn proper stretches from an instructor with experience with low back pain. Work up to other general strengthening, core muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises.
Taming The Pain Of Sciatica: For Most People Time Heals And Less Is More
- By Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH, Contributor
Despite being a less common cause of low back pain, sciatica is still something I regularly see as a general internist. Primary care doctors can and should manage sciatica, because for most individuals the body can fix the problem. My job is to help manage the pain while the body does its job. When a persons symptoms dont improve, I discuss the role of surgery or an injection to speed things up.
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Sciatica Home Remedies And Self
Regardless of the cause, about 90% of people with sciatica will get better without surgerymost of them in just a few weeks. You can start treating your sciatica at home. In fact, home treatment may be all you need, especially if you know that your sciatica is caused by an injury or pregnancy.
Even if you don’t know what’s causing your sciatica, you can take steps to relieve your pain at home. Call your doctor if the pain isn’t manageable or under certain other circumstances.
Using Shoes With High Heels And Arent Adequately Cushioned
Wearing high-heeled shoes shifts your body weight and the center of gravity, forcing you to hunch forward at the hips. On the other hand, footwear without cushioned insoles contributes to transferring the impact of steps to the hips or back. These events can lead to stretching of the hip and the knee muscles alongside the sciatic nerve, resulting in irritation and compression.
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Stretching Your Lower Back
Many think their tight back is causing their Sciatica or Back Pain, and take steps to become more flexible in that area. In reality your tight back is often a symptom not the cause of your pain. Stiffness in the hamstrings, back and butt muscles are often because of an irritated disc and/or Sciatic nerve. You are not going to stretch the pain away.; Think of your lower back more like the foundation of your house. You want it to be strong, stable and secure! When you start adopting this mindset, and learn the proper way to move and exercise you will finally get the relief you have been looking for.
Words of Wisdom: Certain stretches can actually be beneficial for back pain, but the focus is more on adopting positions that help reduce a disc bulge or take pressure off the Sciatic nerve. For instance, we will often prescribe simply lying flat or propped up on your forearms while on your stomach.
Rounding your back while stretching might bring some temporary relief because of a stretch reflex, but the increased pressure placed on the disc and nerve actually cause more harm than good.
Depression And Negative Emotions
Stress can be a trigger for any kind of pain, including sciatica. According to Dr. John Sarno, a Physician at the New York University Medical Center and Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine Professor at New York University School of Medicine, bodily pain can be a result of repressed emotions and stress.
Sciatica and Dr. Sarnos study on mind-body pain became topics of interest for people who suffer pain in their the lumbar area, buttocks, legs, and feet. For years, he has been advocating a different approach to determining the cause and managing back pain that is associated with emotions rather than those that are picked up through MRI scans or verified using a diagnostic injection.
Needless to say, not all medical professionals have been supportive of his straightforward yet patient-centric way on diagnosing and treating back pains.
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What Is The Sciatic Nerve
Sciatic nerve pain can be so excruciating and debilitating that you dont even want to get off the couch. Common causes of sciatica can include a ruptured disk, a narrowing of the spine canal , and injury.
Certified physical therapist Mindy Marantz says that sciatica pain can occur for a variety of reasons. She says, Identifying what doesnt move is the first step toward solving the problem. Often, the most problematic body parts are the lower back and hips.
Dr. Mark Kovacs, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, adds that the best way to alleviate most sciatica pain is to do any stretch that can externally rotate the hip to provide some relief.
Here are six exercises that do just that:
- reclining pigeon pose
Do You Know What Causes Your Sciatica
Sciatica may have a variety of causes, each of them requiring a slightly different treatment. Whether or not surgery would get rid of your sciatica will depend on why the sciatic nerve is inflamed in the first place. Possible reasons may include:
Although most of these causes can be addressed with surgery, it is rarely the first line of treatment. The type of surgery would depend on the problem.
In addition, sciatica-like pain may result from irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle in the buttock. This condition is called piriformis syndrome and rarely requires surgery.
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When To Talk With A Professional
Most of the time, mild sciatica will go away within 4 to 6 weeks. But you should talk with your doctor at the onset of symptoms to make sure youre dealing with sciatica. You return to see a medical professional if:
- your pain is getting progressively worse
- your symptoms start after a sudden injury
- you have severe pain, muscle weakness, or numbness
- you lose control of your bladder or bowels
- symptoms last longer than 6 weeks
- pain interferes with your daily life
- you havent responded to treatment after your initial visit to see a health professional
After your initial visit to see a health professional, you should discuss a plan for when to return if symptoms havent gone away.
Why Is Sciatica So Painful At Night
Sciatica pain can be aggravated when lying down, making it difficult to sleep and find a comfortable position. In some instances, sciatic pain can be severe to the point of waking you up at night. Adjusting your sleep position, as well as using a supportive mattress, can ease your pain.
Side sleeping may place pressure directly onto the nerve roots and tilt your hips out of alignment with your spine. Its best to lay on your unaffected side and use a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned and prevent pain.
Lying on your back emphasizes the lumbar spines curve, potentially pinching the sciatic nerves roots and causing pain. Elevate your legs using a pillow under your knees or an adjustable base to reduce the pressure and relieve your symptoms.
Stomach sleeping can overextend your lower back and irritate your sciatica, so its best to try a different sleeping position. However, if its too difficult to switch positions, temporarily use a pillow under your hips to protect your back.
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Common Sciatica Cause #: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal nerve roots branch outward from the spinal cord through passageways made of bone and ligaments called neural foramina. Nerve roots pass through these openings, join with each other to become nerves, and extend out to the rest of your body.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common cause of sciatica
When spinal stenosis develops, these foramina become narrow or clogged, and the nerves get compressed. The decrease in space within the canal is typically the result of disc herniation, but can also be caused by other issues such as:
- Injuries to the spine, such as vertebral fractures or dislocations from trauma
- The development of bone spursan overgrowth of boneor spinal tumors
Find Expert Care And Treatment For Sciatic Nerve Pain
If youre experiencing one-sided back and leg pain, Integrity Spine and Orthopedics will ensure you receive the right diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, sciatica resolves within a few weeks with medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and stretches. If these treatment methods arent effective, well discuss minimally invasive surgery to relieve pressure on the compressed nerve.
Our board-certified surgeons specialize in forward-thinking, minimally invasive orthopedic and spine care. We offer conservative therapy, pain management, sports medicine, personal injury, and minimally invasive surgery services to help you get back on your feet and back to doing the activities you love.;
We have a convenient clinic located in Jacksonville, FL. Please call us or reach out online to schedule your first appointment.
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Relief From Foot Pain Due To Sciatica
If you have foot pain that is related to sciatica, taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs should initially help to relieve it. It can also be helpful to apply a hot or cold compress to the painful area. Some devices designed to help manage pain, such as OMRON HeatTens for example, combine the pain-relieving benefits of heat and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation in order to treat this kind of pain. You might also find that your symptoms improve with a course of physiotherapy, but if the pain persists, you should see a doctor.
Treating Sciatica Pain And Managing Expectations
Many people think that the worse the pain, the more likely something bad is going on. However, this isnt true for sciatica. The body can reabsorb the disc material that is causing symptoms, even for those with severe pain. So, treatment focuses on controlling pain and keeping people as active as possible. If the pain is excruciating, lying down for short periods can help, but prolonged bed rest does not. So, once the pain diminishes, I tell patients to get up and start walking short distances. Since sitting increases pressure on the discs in the lower back, I recommend avoiding prolonged sitting or driving. Many people try treatments like physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation, but evidence suggests that while these approaches may help typical low back pain, they are less helpful for sciatica. Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen can help. When they dont, I may recommend short-term use of stronger, prescription pain medicines.
Patients often ask about spinal injections where steroid medicine is injected into the affected area. It is worth considering for those with uncontrolled pain or for those with persistent, bothersome symptoms who want to avoid surgery. Injections can provide short-term relief. Like any procedure, it has uncommon risks including more pain, and it doesnt seem to decrease the need for future surgery.
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Are There Home Remedies And Self
Keys to the management of acute sciatica include relief of pain and relaxing associated muscle spasms. Home remedies include heat and cold pack topical administration, over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen , non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen , ibuprofen , and aspirin, and physical therapy that incorporates gradual exercises and stretching. Exercises and stretching can sometimes best be guided by physical therapists.
What Are Other Treatment Options For Sciatica
Other treatment options for sciatica depend on its cause and include addressing the underlying cause and physical therapy.
- Transcutaneous nerve stimulators are sometimes useful for more chronic forms of sciatica.
- A variety of low back conditioning and stretching exercises are employed to help people recover from sciatica.
- Medications used in the treatment of sciatica include pain relievers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and antidepressants.
- Antidepressants actually can help in this setting by reducing pain perception in the brain.
- Other medications that may be helpful include gabapentin and duloxetine .
Cortisone medications, given orally or by local injection , can sometimes be helpful in relieving sciatica pain.
Surgical procedures can sometimes be required for persisting sciatica that is caused by nerve compression at the lower spine. Sometimes pain management specialists help with chronic sciatica conditions.
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Herniated Or Bulging Discs
Herniated or bulging discs occur when the spongy discs between your spinal vertebrae are compressed and bulge out of place. They can occur at any age, but become more common as you grow older or if you have degenerative disc disease, a condition where the discs lose fluid and wear down. Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar spine and near the sciatic nerve, so they can cause sciatic pain.
Difficulty Or Impaired Leg Mobility
Individuals with sciatica may find it difficult to walk, stand or sit in due to the pain and other neurological manifestations of sciatica such as weakness or numbness of the lower extremities.
The signs and symptoms listed above may manifest for a couple of weeks or may last for many years. However, it is essential to note that not everyone will experience the same sciatica symptoms because causes of sciatica may differ from one person to another.
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Risk Factors For Sciatic Nerve Pain
There are multiple reasons you may experience sciatica, including:;
- Age: age-related changes in the spine can cause bone spurs and compressed nerves
- Obesity: Excessive body weight can cause extra weight and pressure on the spine and trigger spinal changes that cause sciatica.;
- Diabetes: Fluctuating blood sugar increases your risk for nerve damage.;
- Long Periods of Sitting: People who have sedentary lifestyles are much more likely to develop sciatica than active people.
Can Sciatica Be Caused By A Bad Mattress
While its unlikely a bad mattress is the cause of your sciatica, your mattress can definitely worsen pain if its unsupportive. Older mattresses tend to be rather unsupportive and lumpy, but even new mattresses can aggravate your sciatica if theyre not suited for your sleeping position.
Its best to use a high-quality mattress built for your sleeping position and body weight to keep your spine aligned and minimize your pain as much as possible.
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Common Causes Of Sciatica
Most commonly, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc. Although, there are other lower back conditions that can attribute to sciatic nerve pain: arthritis, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. ;Sciatica can also be painful if there is a pinched nerve from a bone spur or tumor that is pressing on the nerve.;
What Are The Causes
Sciatica can be caused by a number of conditions that irritate or compress the sciatic nerve:
- Piriformis syndrome: Tightening or spasm of the piriformis muscle can compress the nerve.
- Trauma: A sports injury or fall can fracture the spine or tear a muscle and damage nerves.
- Herniated disc: The gel-like center of a spinal disc can bulge or rupture through a weak area in the disc wall and compress nerves.
- Stenosis: Narrowing of the bony canals in the spine can compress the spinal cord and nerves.
- Osteoarthritis: As discs naturally age they dry out and shrink. Small tears in the disc wall can be painful. Bone spurs can form. The facet joints enlarge and ligaments thicken.
- Spondylolisthesis: A weakness or stress fracture in the facet joints can allow a vertebra to slip out of position and pinch the nerves.
Leg pain can also be caused by a joint problem in the hip or sacroiliac joint. This type of referred pain is quite common, but is not sciatica.
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Bulging Or Herniated Disc
A lumbar bulging or herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatic nerve pain. Research suggests that herniated discs are responsible for 90% of sciatica cases.;;
Intervertebral discs sit between vertebrae in the spine, providing support, cushioning and shock absorption. Each disc contains a soft, jelly-like nucleus surrounded by a tough outer shell. Age and natural wear and tear over time cause spinal discs to dry out, weaken and develop tiny tears. The supporting ligaments start to weaken as well, causing the disc to slip and bulge out of place. Eventually, pressure and degenerative changes can lead to the jelly-like nucleus leaking out of a tear in the outer shell a condition called a herniated disc. A herniated disc can also occur suddenly from a traumatic accident like a fall, car crash or sports accident.;
A disc thats bulging out of place can irritate, rub against or place pressure on nearby structures including the sciatic nerve. Similarly, pieces of a herniated disc can press against or compress the sciatic nerve root. And the jelly-like disc nucleus contains a chemical irritant that causes nerve inflammation when released into the spinal space.;