Sciatica Diagnosis, Treatment, and Therapy in Denver

Getting Relief from Low Back & Leg Pain Cause by Sciatica

Sciatica Diagnosis, Treatment, and Therapy in Denver

Getting Relief from Low Back & Leg Pain Cause by Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

The term sciatica refers to one of many common conditions which inflame or irritate the sciatic nerve, which is the largest single nerve in your body. Sciatic pain may also be referred to as Lumbar Radiculopathy. The sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and continuing down your leg. The size and complexity of this nerve means that nerve pain can have various symptoms and causes, including disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and piriformis syndrome.

Sciatica can be acute, lasting a few weeks, or chronic, persisting for more than 3 months. Anyone can develop sciatica at some point in their lives; however there are certain risk factors that may predispose you to develop sciatica, such as advanced age, a sedentary lifestyle, occupational risks, genetics, or poor nutrition.

What is Sciatica?

The term sciatica refers to one of many common conditions which inflame or irritate the sciatic nerve, which is the largest single nerve in your body. Sciatic pain may also be referred to as Lumbar Radiculopathy. The sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and continuing down your leg. The size and complexity of this nerve means that nerve pain can have various symptoms and causes, including disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and piriformis syndrome.

Sciatica can be acute, lasting a few weeks, or chronic, persisting for more than 3 months. Anyone can develop sciatica at some point in their lives; however there are certain risk factors that may predispose you to develop sciatica, such as advanced age, a sedentary lifestyle, occupational risks, genetics, or poor nutrition.

Symptoms of Sciatica

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What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Sciatica causes pain, numbness, and tingling. For example, tingling radiating down your leg when you take your first steps of the day can be a symptom of sciatica. As can lower back pain that gets worse the longer you stand or sit. While the symptoms and causes are many, all sciatica patients report that it diminishes their quality of life. While the pain itself may come and go, the underlying cause should be identified and treated before it becomes worse.

The pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve may come and go and may respond to light stretching and over-the-counter pain relievers. But if the pain persists or gets worse, it becomes important to identify and treat the underlying condition.

Symptoms of Sciatica

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Sciatica causes pain, numbness, and tingling. For example, tingling radiating down your leg when you take your first steps of the day can be a symptom of sciatica. As can lower back pain that gets worse the longer you stand or sit. While the symptoms and causes are many, all sciatica patients report that it diminishes their quality of life. While the pain itself may come and go, the underlying cause should be identified and treated before it becomes worse.

The pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve may come and go and may respond to rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. But if the pain persists or gets worse, it becomes important to identify and treat the underlying condition.

What Causes Sciatica?

The most common causes of sciatica are:

  • A herniated disc pressing on the root of the sciatic nerve. The soft cushion between the vertebrae can deform or rupture, causing them to create inflammation around the nerve. This can cause low back pain, and pain that radiates down one or both legs.
  • Excessive exercise or rest can cause sciatic nerve irritation. This includes heavy lifting, repeated twisting at the waist (such as with an improper golf swing), and long periods of standing. On the other hand, long periods of sitting or a sedentary lifestyle can also cause sciatic nerve damage.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, which is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that causes the vertebrae to being to fuse and place pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • A narrowing in the spinal canal caused by arthritis known as Spinal Stenosis. Thickened ligaments from the arthritis can compress the sciatic nerve and result in sciatic pain.
  • The sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle in the buttocks. This muscle can spasm or become irritated and pinch the nerve, resulting in radiating pain and/or numbness. In rare cases, a neuromuscular condition called Piriformis Syndrome caused by trauma to the hip or buttocks can cause this type of sciatic pain.

What Causes Sciatica?

The most common causes of sciatica are:

  • A herniated disc pressing on the root of the sciatic nerve. The soft cushion between the vertebrae can deform or rupture, causing them to create inflammation around the nerve. This can cause low back pain, and pain that radiates down one or both legs.
  • Excessive exercise or rest can cause sciatic nerve irritation. This includes heavy lifting, repeated twisting at the waist (such as with an improper golf swing), and long periods of standing. On the other hand, long periods of sitting or a sedentary lifestyle can also cause sciatic nerve damage.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, which is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that causes the vertebrae to being to fuse and place pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • A narrowing in the spinal canal caused by arthritis known as Spinal Stenosis. Thickened ligaments from the arthritis can compress the sciatic nerve and result in sciatic pain.
  • The sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle in the buttocks. This muscle can spasm or become irritated and pinch the nerve, resulting in radiating pain and/or numbness. In rare cases, a neuromuscular condition called Piriformis Syndrome caused by trauma to the hip or buttocks can cause this type of sciatic pain.

What Are the Recommended Treatments for Sciatica?

Sciatic Nerve X-Ray

SpineOne uses a varied approach to sciatica pain relief, depending on the patient’s history, activity level, and diagnosis. Our team of physicians and physical therapists collaborate to learn the cause of sciatic pain and use diagnostic imaging (such as X-Ray or MRI) to confirm a diagnoses before outlining a treatment plan.

A large percentage of patients benefit from conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, home exercise, and oral medications. These treatments can often relieve sciatica caused by inactivity, over-activity, anatomical imbalances, or muscle tightness.

For those patients suffering from sciatica caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or ankylosing spondylitis, our spine specialists may recommend minimally-invasive procedures (such as injections or ablations) to address severe, debilitating pain so that therapy and exercise can be resumed.

These treatments provide effective, and long-lasting relief from sciatic pain without relying on invasive surgery or habit-forming medications.

Do I Need Surgery for Sciatic Pain?

Depending on the type of doctor you consult for sciatica, your treatment plan may include a surgical recommendation.

While surgery may offer an option for pain relief, invasive surgery around the spine has inherent risks that should be addressed and discussed before taking this drastic step. Other approaches to sciatica treatment focus on alternatives to invasive surgery, such as physical therapy, home exercise, and minimally-invasive pain management.

What Are the Recommended Treatments for Sciatica?

SpineOne uses a varied approach to sciatica pain relief, depending on the patient’s history, activity level, and diagnosis. Our team of physicians and physical therapists collaborate to learn the cause of sciatic pain and use diagnostic imaging (such as X-Ray or MRI) to confirm a diagnoses before outlining a treatment plan.

A large percentage of patients benefit from conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, home exercise, and oral medications. These treatments can often relieve sciatica caused by inactivity, over-activity, anatomical imbalances, or muscle tightness.

For those patients suffering from sciatica caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or ankylosing spondylitis, our spine specialists may recommend minimally-invasive procedures (such as injections or ablations) to address severe, debilitating pain so that therapy and exercise can be resumed.

These treatments provide effective, and long-lasting relief from sciatic pain without relying on invasive surgery or habit-forming medications.

Do I Need Surgery for Sciatic Pain?

Depending on the type of doctor you consult for sciatica, your treatment plan may include a surgical recommendation.

While surgery may offer an option for pain relief, invasive surgery around the spine has inherent risks that should be addressed and discussed before taking this drastic step. Other approaches to sciatica treatment focus on alternatives to invasive surgery, such as physical therapy, home exercise, and minimally-invasive pain management.

When Can I Expect Relief from Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Most patients who undergo a combined treatment plan of pain management and physical therapy can expect to achieve relief from debilitating pain within a matter of weeks. Long-term relief can involve longer periods of physical therapy and home exercise to correct the initial imbalance that led to sciatica. Patients who undergo changes in lifestyle and activity level after treating acute sciatic pain have better results in keeping the pain from returning. In some cases, sciatic pain can become chronic and involve longer term care plans. In those cases, SpineOne can recommend how to proceed.

Should I Do Home Exercise for Sciatica?

Generally speaking, movement is better than rest when it comes to treating sciatica. While there are many resources available for home exercises, not all of these are appropriate for all causes of sciatica. For this reason, it’s recommended that you have a physical therapist or physician determine the underlying cause of your sciatica and help you determine an ongoing wellness plan.

When Can I Expect Relief from Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Most patients who undergo a combined treatment plan of pain management and physical therapy can expect to achieve relief from debilitating pain within a matter of weeks. Long-term relief can involve longer periods of physical therapy and home exercise to correct the initial imbalance that led to sciatica. Patients who undergo changes in lifestyle and activity level after treating acute sciatic pain have better results in keeping the pain from returning. In some cases, sciatic pain can become chronic and involve longer term care plans. In those cases, SpineOne can recommend how to proceed.

Should I Do Home Exercise for Sciatica?

Generally speaking, movement is better than rest when it comes to treating sciatica. While there are many resources available for home exercises, not all of these are appropriate for all causes of sciatica. For this reason, it’s recommended that you have a physical therapist or physician determine the underlying cause of your sciatica and help you determine an ongoing wellness plan.

How Should I Choose a Doctor to Treat My Sciatica?

You have many practitioners to choose from who can offer to help your sciatic pain. Most chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, pain management specialists, and physical therapists specialize in specific treatments for sciatica. While each of these may be appropriate treatments for the various causes of sciatica, how each patient responds to those treatments can vary.

Sciatica Treatment

For this reason, we recommend a multi-disciplined specialist who recognizes these differences and offers many treatment options, from injections to physical therapy, or a referral for chiropractic care. SpineOne offers many of these exam, imaging, and treatment options in one location, often with same-day appointments. To learn more, schedule your consultation today.

Schedule Your Consultation


    How Should I Choose a Doctor to Treat My Sciatica?

    You have many practitioners to choose from who can offer to help your sciatic pain. Most chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, pain management specialists, and physical therapists specialize in specific treatments for sciatica. While each of these may be appropriate treatments for the various causes of sciatica, how each patient responds to those treatments can vary.

    For this reason, we recommend a multi-disciplined specialist who recognizes these differences and offers many treatment options, from injections to physical therapy, or a referral for chiropractic care. SpineOne offers many of these exam, imaging, and treatment options in one location, often with same-day appointments. To learn more, schedule your consultation today.

    Schedule Your Consultation