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5 Ways to Reduce Your Chronic Sciatica Pain

You may think no one can relate to your lower back pain, but it’s actually one of the most common physical complaints in the world. Studies show that about 80% of the population experiences back pain at some point in their lives, and they miss more work days because of it than because of any other type of disability. 

And back pain is expensive. Americans spend a reported $50 billion on back-related health care every year and match that amount in lost wages. 

Dr. Jay Shah at the Samwell Institute for Pain Management is committed to breaking the cycle of chronic lower back pain so you can get back to work and back to life. A leader in the field of interventional pain management, Dr. Shah treats your sciatica with the most advanced technology in his state-of-the-art facility. 

Understanding sciatica

The longest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, through your buttocks, and down the side of your leg. That’s why you feel pain in your leg even though the source comes from your back. The classic symptoms include pain on one side affecting the buttocks and leg. Some feel it as a sharp or stabbing pain; others describe it as a tingling sensation or numbness.

Sciatic symptoms tend to appear suddenly, last a few days or up to a few weeks, and, typically, resolve with conservative treatments. But if your symptoms are persistent and severe, Dr. Shah can help you with more advanced treatments. 

How did you get sciatica?

Here are just a few of several possible causes of your pain:

Spinal stenosis

As you age, your spine begins to narrow inside due to thickened ligaments, bone spurs, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, or even tumors. The nerves that travel through that narrowed space, including your sciatic nerve, get compressed and cause you pain. 

Herniated discs

Discs are the gel-filled spacers between the vertebrae in your spine. They act as shock absorbers and buffers between your bones. If one becomes damaged, or herniated, it can press on your sciatic nerve, causing pain.

Piriformis syndrome

The muscle that connects your thigh bone to your lower back is called the piriformis muscle, and it’s situated above your sciatic nerve. If that muscle spasms or cramps, it can cause sciatica. 

Ways to reduce your sciatica pain

The best way to address your sciatica pain is to resolve the problem that’s compressing the nerve. Here are five progressive treatment options to help you relieve the pain.

1. Hot and cold therapy

Ice decreases inflammation, and heat relaxes your muscles. Apply an ice pack on your lower back for about 20 minutes, and repeat it every couple of hours. You can alternate hot and cold, or use just one or the other, depending on which brings the most pain relief.

2. Over-the-counter medications

Because inflammation causes pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil™ and Motrin™) naproxen (Aleve™) and acetaminophen (Tylenol™) may stop the pain long enough for you to heal.

3. Physical Therapy and Stretching

Depending on what’s causing your sciatica, movement might be the best answer. Dr. Shah can help you determine the proper types of stretches and exercises that will take the pressure off your sciatic nerve. While physical therapy can help reduce inflammation, consult Dr. Shah before embarking on an exercise routine, as some activities can aggravate your condition.

4. Epidural Steroid injections under X-ray Guidance

Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain. If you need this level of relief, Dr. Shah injects the steroid directly into your spine near the sciatic nerve. Although not safe for long-term use, steroid injections are ideal for short-term pain relief that allows you to continue healing through physical therapy.

5. Minimally Invasive and Non-surgical Procedures 

Sciatica rarely requires surgical intervention, but if it has begun to affect your bladder or bowels, or if you’re experiencing severe pain or weakness, you may need surgery. In addition, herniated discs are one of the conditions that may not resolve with conservative treatments. Dr. Shah diagnoses the root cause of your sciatica and discusses all your treatment options in detail so you can make an informed decision. 

If your sciatica is caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, Dr. Shah utilizes minimally invasive procedures such as lumbar decompression (MILD®) procedure by Vertos Medical, or Vertiflex Interspinous spacers to help decompress the spine without surgery. available. 

Other treatment options

On the cutting edge of interventional pain management technology, Dr. Shah also offers regenerative medicine treatments, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy, when his patients are good candidates for this procedure. 

Spinal cord stimulation or Dorsal Root Ganglion stimulation (DRG) may also help your sciatica pain by sending electrical impulses to the nerves, which blocks signals of pain.

If you have sciatica pain, don’t suffer through it. Call us for an appointment today or book one online to find out what’s causing yours and how you can get fast and long-lasting pain relief. 

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