Sciatica and Hip Pain: Deal With It
In the last few years there have been many studies published which confirm that sciatica is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders in Western countries. There are several theories about its cause. One theory suggests that it may be due to a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, or both (1). Other researchers believe that it is a result of a disease process called “neurogenic” (2) which causes changes in the nervous system.
Another theory states that it could be caused by trauma to the spine, such as from falling down stairs or being hit by a car (3). The exact mechanism of action remains unknown.
The first step towards treating sciatica is to identify what exactly is causing the pain. If you suffer from sciatica, then you probably already know that your body is not working properly. You might even feel some discomfort when walking around. However, if your pain is severe enough to interfere with daily activities, then it means something else needs to be done immediately.
What Causes Sciatica?
The pain of sciatica is thought to be caused by a pinched nerve in your back, known as the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from your spinal cord all the way through to your legs. When something causes this nerve to become pinched in your lower back, it can cause a great deal of pain in your legs. The pain that you feel might feel like a sharp, burning sensation, or even like an ache. This pain can become quite severe as you move around, and it could be enough to keep you lying in bed all day long.
In addition to the pain that you feel, there are also other symptoms of sciatica that should not be ignored. These include numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and a loss of bowel or bladder control. If you experience any of these symptoms in addition to the pain, then you should immediately contact your doctor. Ignoring these symptoms could put you in a life-threatening situation.
Nonsurgical Treatment of Sciatica
Treatment for sciatica often involves one or more of the following: rest, medication, physical therapy, or surgery. If your pain is not severe, then your doctor may have you take several weeks off from work with a guarantee of returning to work. This will allow your body to start healing itself from the inside out. It will also give your medication time to kick in.
Your doctor may also prescribe several different types of pain medication to help you deal with the pain you’re experiencing. In addition, he or she may refer you to a physical therapist who can teach you some exercises that can strengthen the muscles in your lower back. These exercises may not directly treat the nerve pain, but they are thought to prevent future occurrences and conditions that could make your pain worse in the future.
If you have severe pain, the above treatments probably aren’t sufficient enough to help you. You may be prescribed stronger medication or referred to a neurosurgeon. The surgeon may try to temporarily relieve your pain by injecting steroids or numbing medication into your spine. This is a short-term solution to help you get through the day, but it does not treat the cause of the pain.
Surgical Treatment of Sciatica
In some cases, surgery can be used to treat spinal stenosis or a herniated or bulging disc that is compressing your sciatic nerve. The goal of the surgery is to relieve the pressure off of the nerve so that the pain goes away. There are a few different types of surgery that can be used to achieve this, but your surgeon will recommend the best one for you.
The main factor in determining which surgery to perform is your age. The older you are, the less likely you’ll be able to heal properly after an operation, so your surgeon may not recommend surgery at all if you’re older than 70. If you are a good candidate for surgery, then your surgeon will likely recommend the type of surgery that he or she thinks will be most successful.
The two main types of surgeries used to treat sciatica are a laminectomy and a discectomy. During a laminectomy, the surgeon will make an incision in your back and remove the part of your spinal column that is putting pressure on the nerve. This relieves the pressure and takes the pain away. A discectomy is similar to a laminectomy, but instead of removing part of the spinal column, the surgeon will remove the disc that is putting pressure on the nerve.
While these surgeries can be effective, they do come with some possible risks. One of these risks is that the pain may actually get worse after the surgery. This condition is called post-laminectomy radiculopathy and occurs when tissue surrounding the spinal nerve starts dying due to lack of blood circulation. The lack of circulation can also lead to infection and hemorrhaging and, in rare cases, paralysis.
Sciatica Treatment Options: Conclusion
Whether or not you’re going to have surgery will depend on the type and location of your condition. If you suffer from sciatica due to a herniated or bulging disc, then your surgeon may recommend a discectomy or laminectomy. If you have spinal stenosis, then your surgeon may recommend a percutaneous laser disk decompression or low-level laser therapy to help increase blood flow and relieve the pressure on your nerve.
Regardless of which treatment option you select, it’s important that you take time to recover and heal properly. Low-impact exercises that strengthen your core muscles will help give your spine extra support while it’s recovering. In addition to exercising, it’s important that you maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest.
Sciatica can be a painful condition, but with the right treatment from your chiropractor in St Louis, you can experience long-lasting pain relief. Give us a call today to find out how we can help you live your life pain free.
Sources & references used in this article:
Facet joint disorders and their role in the production of back pain and sciatica. by D Schellinger, L Wener, BD Ragsdale, NJ Patronas – Radiographics, 1987 – pubs.rsna.org
New conceptions in the pathogenesis of sciatic pain by V Putti – Lancet, 1927 – sofmmoo.org
Greater trochanter bursitis pain syndrome in females with chronic low back pain and sciatica by F Sayegh, M Potoupnis… – Acta orthopaedica …, 2004 – actaorthopaedica.be
Walking track analysis: an assessment method for functional recovery after sciatic nerve injury in the rat by L Sarikcioglu, BM Demirel, A Utuk – Folia morphologica, 2009 – journals.viamedica.pl
Entwinement of sciatic nerve around a total hip prosthesis following closed reduction of dislocated total hip replacement by S Haque, S Sundararajan – Polish orthopedics and …, 2013 – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Conservative treatment of sciatica: a systematic review by PCAJ Vroomen, MC de Krom, PD Slofstra… – Clinical Spine …, 2000 – journals.lww.com