Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine is one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive and advanced pain management facilities. We offer non-surgical orthopedic and therapeutic care to Ramsey and the surrounding Bergen County communities. Back pain and related issues are one of the most common diagnoses our team works with; indeed, research indicates that up to 8 out of 10 of us will experience at least one episode of back pain over the course of our lives.
Throughout their years of clinical practice, Progressive Spine & Sports co-founders Dr. Steven Ferrer and Dr. Kevin McElroy have fielded many questions about one particular health concern known as sciatica. It’s almost a buzz word in the back pain world. Many patients wonder if their symptoms are caused by this disorder, even if they’re not completely sure what the disorder is.
Sciatica: What is it, Exactly?
Understanding sciatica requires a bit of understanding about the human spine. In your lower back, you have 2 large nerves which exit on the right and left side of the spinal column. These nerves go on to branch out and provide innervation (sensory and motor) to the right and left leg. These nerves are called sciatic nerves.
Sometimes, one of your sciatic nerves can become impinged or pinched. This can happen due to a variety of factors, including disc herniation, disc bulge, degenerative joint disease, bone spur, or in rare cases a tumor. Another cause of sciatic nerve impingement is a muscle injury known as piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle in your hip through which the sciatic nerve travels.
Pressure on any nerve can lead to a variety of symptoms. If a sciatic nerve is affected, symptoms can include:
- Numbness and tingling in the affected leg
- Pain in the affected leg–often described as burning, shooting, stabbing, or searing
- Weakness in the affected leg
- Back pain (though not always!)
It’s important to understand that the phrase “sciatica” doesn’t actually describe a particular health problem itself. Instead, it’s a useful term for describing a syndrome of symptoms that a person may have when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated. Why does this matter? Because determining the exact underlying cause of your sciatica symptoms can help guide treatment. Not everyone with sciatica requires the same treatment. This is true not only because the underlying cause could be different from person to person, but also because symptoms can vary significantly, as well.
Who Gets Sciatica?
Certain people may be more at risk for developing sciatica compared to others. This includes anyone with a sedentary job or who sit for long periods of time, people between the ages of 30 and 50, people with diabetes, and people who are overweight.
Non-Surgical Treatment of Sciatica With Our Ramsey Orthopedic & Physical Therapy Team
The goal of conservative management of sciatica (and its underlying cause) is to ultimately reduce or eliminate the source of pressure on the sciatic nerve. Once this relief is provided, proper healing and symptom resolution can begin. After determining your underlying diagnosis, our team will be able to customize your treatment plan to maximize your recovery and prevent recurrence. To do this, we may use a combination of non-surgical strategies, including physical therapy, interventional pain injections, myofascial release, acupuncture, and more. We’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure we’re finding solutions that safely and effectively meet your needs.
Wondering if you have sciatica? Tired of struggling with frustrating and debilitating symptoms? Call Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine today at (201) 962-9199 to schedule a consultation.