Back Pain & Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the nerve that travels from the buttocks and down each leg.

Sciatica most often happens when a herniated disk or an overgrowth of bone puts pressure on the lumbar spine nerve roots. This happens “upstream” from the sciatic nerve and causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.

Back pain is the most commonly reported incidence of chronic pain. Causes can be very complex and often occur due to lifestyle. If you are overweight or don’t exercise, or have poor posture or a job that requires frequent lifting or twisting, you are at increased risk of experiencing back pain.

Back pain may also be the result of an injury or trauma or caused by arthritis or spinal disc abnormalities. In some cases, patients who have undergone unsuccessful spinal surgery can experience ongoing chronic pain which requires intervention by a pain medicine specialist.

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and runs from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of each leg. Sciatic pain usually occurs in different locations depending on where the nerve is compressed and varies for each patient – from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating.

Sciatica can cause multiple symptoms including lower back or hip pain; burning, tingling or weakness in the leg; shooting pain in the leg or foot, and occasionally more serious symptoms such as numbness of the upper thighs or lack of bladder and bowel control.

Commonly related to lower back problems, sciatica symptoms can be associated with degenerated or herniated discs or spinal problems such as stenosis. It is therefore important to identify the cause when treating this type of back pain condition.

Possible causes of chronic back pain and/or sciatica include

  • Facet joint disease
  • Spinal Canal Stenosis
  • Nerve root compression
  • Disc disease
  • Sacroiliac Joint disease
  • Soft Tissue injury and deconditioning
  • Degeneration or Spondylosis

Potential symptoms

  • Stiffness or aching of the spine
  • Sharp pain or muscle spasms
  • Associated pain felt in the neck, upper, middle or lower back
  • Muscle weakness – seek prompt medical attention
  • Abnormalities in bladder and bowel function – seek prompt medical attention

Recommended treatments

  • Medication
  • Physical therapy – including stretching and exercise, lifestyle modifications
  • Epidural steroid injection or nerve root injection can often relieve sciatica pain and help with a diagnosis
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy – cauterise offending nerves via heat administered through a small needle
  • Spinal cord stimulation procedures can help cases of recurring back or leg pain
  • Referral to a spinal surgeon if required

Why suffer? Make an appointment to discuss a treatment plan tailored specifically for you.

To find out more about our treatment options that can help reduce or eliminate your pain, contact us or make an appointment today.