The sciatic nerve exits the spinal column near the base. It splits into two parts, with each branch running down a leg. You usually feel sciatica in only one leg, but sometimes the nerve is so inflamed that both branches are affected.
Most of the time, sciatica’s caused by a ruptured or herniated disc that’s pressing against the lumbar nerve roots. The pressure causes pain that travels down the leg. However, that’s not the only cause. Other conditions may mimic sciatica, which is why it’s important to get a clinical diagnosis before starting any kind of treatment.
The spine experts at The Spine Center at the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge diagnose and treat sciatica at our Baton Rouge, Walker, and Prairieville, Louisiana offices. Although sciatica may go away on its own, it can take weeks, and may recur, too.
Stay active with sciatica
Even though the pain and numbness in your leg may make you want to spend some time resting or even take to your bed, that won’t improve your symptoms. In fact, too much rest could even make them worse.
Once you find out from your doctor what’s causing your sciatica, together you develop an exercise routine that allows you to stay active while managing your pain. You may rest for a day or two during pain flares, but you should work to strengthen and stretch your muscles to prevent worsening or recurrent pain.
The main muscles involved in sciatica pain are the hip flexors and the piriformis, both of which run from your lower spine to your thigh bones. We may recommend physical therapy that gently stretches these muscles and loosen your hips.
Sciatica may come back
Sciatica usually resolves on its own without treatment within a month or two. However, that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. If you don’t resolve the underlying condition that caused sciatica, it may recur and even develop into a chronic pain condition.
Strengthening and stretching exercises create strong core muscles to support your spine, which takes pressure off the nerves. If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may help, too.
If you’re having a flare of sciatica pain, you may be able to control it by alternating cold packs and heating pads. You could also take painkillers and muscle relaxants for relief.
However, if the cause of your recurring sciatica is a slipped or ruptured disc, we may recommend laminotomy with discectomy. During this simple, minimally invasive surgical procedure, we remove the part of the ruptured or herniated disc that’s pressing against your sciatic nerve.
Don’t let sciatica become a normal part of your life. If you suffer from persistent or chronic sciatica, give us a call today at 833-774-6327 for diagnosis and treatment options. Or, book your appointment online with our convenient form.