Prolonged pain on one side of your body may be a distraction in your regular activities. Numbness and tingling from your back down to the leg could indicate sciatica in Red Bank. It is essential to seek medical treatment since sciatica pain may result from underlying conditions such as a spinal disorder.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica, also known as sciatic neuropathy, refers to mild or intense pain originating from the sciatic nerve to your lower back, hips, buttocks, and down to either the right or left leg. The most common cause of sciatica is when a herniated disc compresses part of the nerve resulting in pain, inflammation, and numbness in your leg. The pain may worsen when you cough, sneeze, or sit for long periods.
Causes of sciatica pain?
Several spinal disorders may cause sciatica. For example:
Lumbar spinal stenosis
The spinal cord contains passageways made of bone and ligaments known as neural foramina. Through these openings, nerve roots join to form nerves and extend to the rest of your body. Spinal stenosis clogs and causes narrowing of the foramina. The decrease in space results in nerve compression.
Herniated or bulging lumbar disc
Spinal discs have different functions, including:
- Cushions the vertebrae
- It makes the spine flexible
- Evenly distributes pressure from the spine
Disc bulging occurs in the lumbar spine since it supports the upper body and is more prone to pressure. A bulging disc appears as a result of having too little gel in the disc’s center. As you get older, fluid between your disc may wear away and cause a bulging disc.
This disorder occurs when a vertebra slips over an adjacent vertebra. The displaced vertebra may press on the nerves. Spondylolisthesis can either an issue from the moment of birth or as a result of:
- Trauma from a car accident
- Spinal degeneration causing parts of the spine to break down
- A lot of pressure from activities such as weightlifting
Diagnosis for sciatic pain
A physical examination enables your doctor to check your reflexes and muscle strength. Your specialist may ask you to perform various movements such as squatting and walking on your toes. Sciatica pain tends to worsen during these activities.
Imaging tests for diagnosis include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging. This test involves using a strong magnet and radio waves to produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues on your back.
- CT scan. Your specialist may use a contrast dye to illuminate the spinal cord and check for any compression and abnormalities. This process is known as CT myelogram.
- X-ray. This test uses electromagnetic waves to create pictures of your spine and reveal abnormalities such as bone spurs.
- Electromyography. This test is used to measure your muscle response. During this process, your doctor will insert electrodes through your skin, and electrical activities in your muscles will be displayed on a monitor.
There are various home remedies that you could use to minimize discomfort. For example:
- Stretching. Exercises that stretch muscles in your lower back may reduce nerve root compression.
- Hot or cold packs. Applying heat to the painful areas may help alleviate discomfort. You may use a heating pad or ice cubes.
- Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen may help reduce pain.
Reserve a session with your Downtown Pain Management specialist to learn more about different treatment options for sciatica.