Your nervous system is the central control center for your body, transmitting a vast array of processes throughout your body, including thoughts, breathing, thinking, blushing, and how your senses interact with the world around you. There are two main branches of the nervous system, the central system, which is the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral system, which extends out from the central base to the rest of the body. Because this system affects so much of what goes on in your body, there are many ways it can be damaged and create problems, including pinching or trapping nerve conditions like sciatica.
Sciatica starts in the lumbar region of your spine (lower back) and depending on the extent of the damage can spread throughout your lower body. Many treatment options are available to treat it, depending on its severity, but is it possible that it simply goes away? Let’s try to answer this question by looking at what sciatica is, its causes and symptoms, and the necessity for treatment of this condition.
Residents of the La Vernia, Gonzales, Kyle, or Floresville, Texas, area trying to figure out how to manage back pain associated with sciatica or other conditions can find help with Dr. Eric Miller, and his dedicated medical staff.
This is a condition that affects your sciatic nerve (more specifically two bundles of branching nerves running down both sides of the body), which runs from the base of your spine all the way down the lower body, making it the longest and thickest bundle of branching nerves your body has. Sciatica is the result of damage or irritation to that nerve, and pain that originates in one part of the nerve can lead to pain in other areas along the same path (also known as referred pain).
You can have two types of this condition, true sciatica, which is the result of symptoms directly related to the nerve itself, and sciatica-like conditions, where the symptoms come from related nerves. It can also be a short-term (acute) or a long-term (chronic) problem. The amount of discomfort you experience will vary depending on the severity of your sciatica, which can occur in your hips, buttocks, legs, and even your feet.
Several conditions or injuries that affect your lower spine can lead to sciatica, including herniated disks, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, and pinched or compressed nerves from spinal impact (sports injuries, falling, accidents). The risks of struggling with these problems increase for people who are overweight, have diabetes, work jobs that cause back strain, and smoke. The nerves and related tissue can also wear down due to the rigors of aging over time.
There are many signs of this back problem, including pain that increases as you move, numbness, burning, or weakness anywhere along the sciatic nerve, a pins-and-needles sensation that can reach all the way to your feet, and, in rare cases, incontinence.
Whether or not you need treatment for sciatica depends both on the type and severity of your condition. Acute sciatica may only require exercise, light stretching, over-the-counter pain medications, or a compress to manage pain. Since it is acute, it does go away over time, and all of the aforementioned treatments can be done at home. Chronic problems or more severe cases will likely require physical therapy, prescription painkillers, cognitive behavioral therapy, or possibly surgery to manage associated symptoms.
Ultimately, the necessity of getting treated will depend on the long term impact and severity of your sciatica. To find out what form of this back problem you’re dealing with, or to manage other forms of pain, make an appointment with Dr. Miller and his team today to find out what treatment you need.