What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the symptoms that occur when your sciatic nerve is damaged, irritated, or inflamed. The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.
Symptoms typically occur on one side of your body but can affect both and may occur anywhere along the nerve.
What are the symptoms?
Sciatica symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe, and may feel constantly present. You may experience:
- Pain radiating from your lower back to your buttock and down the back of your thigh and calf
- Mild aching discomfort
- Sharp, burning pain that may feel like an electric shock
- Worsening pain with coughing, sneezing, or standing
- Numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot
Sometimes sciatica causes pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another. It can also create difficulty controlling your bowels or bladder.
What causes sciatica?
The nerve irritation and inflammation that leads to sciatica is often related to a herniated disc, bone spur, or narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses the nerve as it exits the spine. Other conditions such as diabetic neuropathy may also cause nerve damage that leads to sciatica.
Certain habits and conditions increase your risk of developing sciatica, which may include:
- Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated discs
- Obesity, which increases stress on your spine
- An occupation that requires you to carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods
- Prolonged sitting or a sedentary lifestyle
- Diabetes, which increases your risk of nerve damage
What is the treatment?
Our medical team first performs a thorough physical exam, detailed discussion of your symptoms, and diagnostic studies as necessary to pinpoint the cause of your sciatic nerve dysfunction. They then develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and their underlying cause.
Our team often recommends combined electrochemical therapy (CET) as a nonsurgical treatment for sciatica that has a high success rate of 87%. This therapy can eliminate the need for pain medication as it restores your mobility and overall function.