Sciatica Q & A

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica refers to specific symptoms that occur with sciatic nerve compression in your lower spine. The sciatic nerve leaves your spine, goes through your buttocks and travels down both legs.

Sciatic nerve compression is often caused by:

  • Herniated disc
  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Slipped vertebra (spondylolisthesis)
  • Piriformis syndrome

A herniated disc causes about 90% of all cases of sciatica.

What symptoms develop due to sciatica?

Sciatica has the reputation of causing excruciating pain that starts in your lower back and radiates down your leg, most often affecting one leg.

However, the pain is different for each patient. You may feel an aching or cramping type of pain, burning pain or sudden, electric-shock pain.

If you have sciatica, you may also develop tingling, numbness, and, in severe cases, muscle weakness in the affected leg. Sitting for a long time aggravates sciatica. The pain frequently gets worse when you twist, bend over, sneeze, or cough.

How do you treat sciatica?

The first line of treatment for sciatica often includes physical therapy and medications to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and relax muscles. When your pain continues despite conservative treatment, the doctors at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® offer many effective options:

Interventional medicine

Interventional medicine stops pain at its source: the nerves transmitting pain signals to your brain. When the pain impulses are blocked or scrambled, your brain doesn’t get the message. As a result, your pain disappears or is significantly diminished.

There are many interventional treatment options for sciatica, including:

  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • BurstDR™ stimulation
  • Dorsal root ganglion stimulation
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Nerve blocks
  • Radiofrequency ablation

Your doctor may also recommend interventional options that target specific underlying health conditions. For example, the Vertiflex® Superion® interspinous spacer decompresses the nerve when spinal stenosis causes the problem.

Regenerative medicine

Injections of adult stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) may help relieve sciatica when degenerative disc disease causes nerve compression.

Your doctor at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® injects stem cells and/or PRP at the damaged disc, where the cells accelerate the healing process, regulate inflammation, and regenerate new tissues to heal the disc.

When you need to find relief from sciatica, call Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® or schedule an appointment online.