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Treatment overview and more!
Sciatica is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It's estimated that up to 40% of people will experience Sciatica at some point in their lives, making it a widespread concern. Sciatica pain can be mild or severe, typically targeting just one side of the body. Some people experience pain gradually, while some people experience pain very suddenly.
If you're seeking more information about Sciatica, we invite you to explore further using the navigation buttons below. You'll find detailed explanations about the causes, symptoms, and treatments we offer for Sciatica.
When you're ready, our team of sciatic nerve doctors are available to schedule a new patient consultation. You can reach us by submitting a contact form or by giving us a call. Remember, early intervention for Sciatica is crucial. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of successfully managing the pain and restoring your quality of life.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this office. I was helping my mom find a place for her arthritis pain, and I explained to them how bad it was. They were able to schedule me the same week! That's almost impossible at any doctor's office...and then add COVID..... I was thrilled. I took my mom, and everyone was absolutely so sweet and kind
- Donyasha B.
Dr. Rao. I can't find the words to tell you how much he has meant to me. I followed him from an old practice to his very new high tech office. They offer so many different areas of assistance to those with issues from nutrition to spinal surgery...and much more. His office is professional.
- Mom To2
Dr. Roa is such an amazing doctor! During my first visit he never tried to rush through my appt., he genuinely listened to all my concerns and then took his time to explain to me in detail all his recommendations and how they would help me.
- Nikki Walker
In the 3 years as a patient of Dr. Rao, it is my opinion that he is a phenomenal and extraordinary doctor. He keeps up to date with the latest treatment options, will sacrifice time no matter how many are in the waiting room to listen and explain. Dr. Rao has treated multiple patients with rare illnesses, and shows more empathy than any Dr. I’ve met.
- Mom To2
I have now been with Dr. Rao for 13 years. He is the most caring Doctor I have ever been to! Dr. Rao makes you feel very comfortable at all times. I would not want to go to any other Doctor... I go to the Hagerstown location, everyone is very nice
- Theresa R.
The entire staff from the folks at the front desk to the Nurse, to the Physicians Assistant to the scribe that records the visit for the doctor - (great idea so the Doctor can focus on the patient!!!)
- NVA F.
Completely the best care you could want the staff is so pleasant and caring and the doctors have true heart for healing, love being a patient here would give 10 stars if I could & absolutely the most caring during my procedure with Dr B
- Cathern C.
Always friendly, courteous, and efficient service. From the ladies, who work the front desk, to the nurses and the doctors. I've always had a good experience with the Harrisonburg office in Virginia.
They scheduled my appointment very quickly so that I can get to help that I needed immediately instead of like most places having to wait two to three weeks to get in I called and was able to be seen the next day
- John H.
After transitioning from a pain and spine doctor in Columbia, MD.. The intake staff member at Pain and Spine Specialist made the scheduling a breeze. They were able to get me in within a week.
Sciatica Treatment Guide
Board Certified Doctors
Patients Seen Within Two Weeks
The Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body. The nerve diverges into the left and right nerves on both sides of the body. It extends through the hips and buttocks and continues down the leg, ending right below the knee. At the knee, the nerve branches off into other nerves, which continue into the feet.
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. Each case of Sciatica can vary in terms of how long it lasts or whether treatment is necessary. Some people only experience pain from Sciatica for about one to two weeks before it clears up on its own. Others will have pain lasting several years, with multiple flare-ups occurring yearly.
Many people can clear up their pain with at-home care, which includes hot/cold packs, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, and safe stretches. Anyone who cannot see improvements after trying home remedies may need to see a doctor to manage or alleviate their pain.
What type of doctor treats sciatica?
There are several types of sciatica pain doctors who can treat sciatica, each with their own specific expertise:
- Pain Management Specialists
Pressure or damage to the nerve can occur for a variety of reasons. Sciatica can include:
- Lumbar Herniated Disc: A bulging or herniated disk that is pressing on the nerve. Discs are the cushions between the vertebrates that make up the spinal column. Disc bulging occurs when the disc extends outside its common space. A disc herniation is when the 'inner jelly-like substance' pushes out of the disc because of tears or defects in the outer cartilage layer.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerve. It can happen in any part of the spine but most often occurs in the neck and the lower back. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is the type of Stenosis present in the lower back, and the lumbar area comprises five lumbar vertebrae, where Stenosis can set in. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is usually the result of the damages caused by Osteoarthritis.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: Aging can lead to the breakdown or degeneration of the spinal discs, causing irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Bone Spurs: Bone spurs can also cause the sciatica nerve in neck to become compressed. Bone spurs are essentially an overgrowth of bone, which can occur on the bones that make up the spinal column. Also known as Osteophytes, these growths often start in the joints, which connect the bones, but when the jagged-edged bones occur in the right spot along the spine, they can quickly narrow the space and pinch the spinal cord or nerve roots.
- Cauda Equina Syndrome: This is a rare but serious condition that occurs when the bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord, known as the cauda equina, is compressed. This syndrome is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention, as it leads to a loss of control of the bowels and bladder.
- Pelvic Fractures: Injuries like pelvic fractures can also lead to Sciatica. A fracture or dislocation can stretch or compress the sciatic nerve, causing pain and dysfunction similar to symptoms of Sciatica.
- Sometimes, no specific cause can be found.
Understanding the risk factors can help you manage and prevent Sciatica. They include:
- Age: As people age, their chances for herniated disks and bone spurs, along with other spine-related conditions that can lead to Sciatica, can increase.
- Obesity: Excess body weight can contribute to spinal changes that trigger Sciatica.
- Occupation: Any profession that has you sitting or standing for hours on end, where you cannot walk around or stretch properly, can play a part in sciatica pain. The same can happen if you have a very physically demanding job, which may involve lifting heavy objects or other tasks that are hard on the body and might cause a work-related injury to the lower back.
- Prolonged Sitting: People who sit for extended periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop Sciatica than active people.
- Diabetes: This condition affects how your body uses blood sugar and increases the risk of nerve damage.
- Lifestyle: Those who are sedentary and do not exercise often are more likely to have Sciatica than those who are physically active and regularly get the recommended amount of exercise.
Sciatica is typically marked by discomfort originating in your lower spine and traveling down the back of your leg. Here are some common signs and symptoms:
- Pain: This symptom can range from mild aching to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. Often, it worsens with prolonged sitting or sudden movements.
- Numbness or Muscle Weakness: You might experience numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
- Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control: This is a rare but serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.
- Hip Pain: Sciatica can cause pain in the hip area, which may be confused with hip arthritis.
- Reduced Reflexes: You may have reduced knee-jerk or ankle-jerk reflexes.
Variations in Symptoms Based on Severity
The symptoms of Sciatica can significantly vary in intensity:
- Mild Sciatica: Symptoms are often intermittent and annoying but manageable. They may include mild pain accompanied by tingling, numbness, or weakness.
- Moderate Sciatica: Symptoms are more persistent. This can include constant pain, especially when sitting, and numbness and tingling down the leg.
- Severe Sciatica: Symptoms may be debilitating and significantly interfere with daily activities. This includes severe pain radiating down the leg, significant weakness, and potential bowel or bladder control loss.
Types of sciatica pain
Sciatica generally progresses through Acute, Subacute, and Chronic stages.
Acute Stage (0-6 Weeks)
The acute stage of Sciatica is characterized by the sudden onset of pain in the lower back or hip that radiates to the buttocks and down the leg. The pain can vary from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. You may also experience numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. During this stage, conservative treatment options like pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy are typically recommended.
Subacute Stage (6-12 Weeks)
If symptoms persist beyond six weeks, the condition enters the subacute stage. During this phase, the pain may lessen in intensity but continue to limit daily activities. The focus of treatment at this stage often involves a combination of continued medication, physical therapy, and possibly injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
Chronic stage (12+ Weeks)
Sciatica is considered chronic when it lasts for 12 weeks or longer. At this stage, the pain may come and go, but it tends to be more persistent. Treatment may involve a more integrated approach, including medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and potentially surgical intervention if the pain is severe and other treatments have not been effective.
Remember, sciatica symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. That's why seeking professional help for a sciatica differential diagnosis and treatment plan is crucial.
The pain associated with Sciatica can often make routine tasks feel overwhelming. Simple activities like sitting, standing, or even walking can trigger sharp, shooting pain, making you immobile for moments. This can affect your ability to work, participate in recreational activities, and even hinder social interactions. The constant discomfort can also lead to sleep disturbances, further exacerbating the condition and leading to a vicious cycle of pain and fatigue.
Moreover, the unpredictability of sciatic pain can add another layer of stress. Not knowing when the pain might strike can cause anxiety and emotional distress, affecting your mental well-being. This combination of physical discomfort and emotional strain can significantly lower your quality of life.
Coping Mechanisms and Lifestyle Adjustments
Despite these challenges, there are ways to manage Sciatica and mitigate its impact on your life. One of the most crucial coping mechanisms is understanding your body and recognizing what exacerbates your symptoms. This can help you adjust your lifestyle to avoid these triggers.
Regular exercise, particularly gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, can help alleviate symptoms. It's important to remember that while physical activity can help, listening to your body and not overdoing it is crucial.
Another effective coping mechanism is maintaining good posture. Whether sitting, standing, or lifting objects, properly aligning your spine can help prevent unnecessary strain on the sciatic nerve.
Implementing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can also help manage the stress and anxiety associated with living with Sciatica.
While it is possible your pain will clear up on its own, if it is a mild case, you may need to see your doctor if:
- You do not see improvements in your symptoms after trying home remedies.
- The pain does not go away after one to two weeks.
- Your pain is worse than it has been in the past or starts to intensify over time.
You should seek immediate medical attention if these situations occur:
- You start to feel pain after an accident or injury, such as a severe fall.
- You are unable to control your bladder or bowels.
- You have excruciating pain or muscle weakness originating in your lower back or the legs.
Our board-certified sciatica doctors will carefully examine you to diagnose the cause of your symptoms. Our sciatica specialists follow a comprehensive approach that includes reviewing your medical history, conducting diagnostic imaging tests, performing necessary nerve tests, and using diagnostic nerve blocks when applicable.
Review of Medical History
Your journey with us begins with a thorough review of your medical history. We take into consideration any previous injuries or illnesses, lifestyle habits, and current symptoms. Understanding your past health experiences and present complaints helps us get a clearer picture of your condition.
We employ state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging techniques to visualize your spinal structures. These may include X-rays to show the alignment of your vertebrae and whether you have a herniated disc or bone spurs. In some cases, we may use MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT (Computed Tomography) scans to provide detailed images of your spine, helping us identify any abnormalities causing your Sciatica.
If necessary, nerve tests such as Electromyography (EMG) may be performed. This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. It can help confirm whether you have Sciatica and pinpoint the affected nerves.
Diagnostic Nerve Blocks
In some instances, we may use diagnostic nerve blocks to determine the specific source of pain. This involves injecting an anesthetic around the suspected nerve(s), such as in a facet joint injection, epidural steroid injection, SI injection, or medial branch block. If the injection relieves your pain, it can confirm the specific nerve root causing your symptoms.
Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan tailored specifically for you.
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we offer a comprehensive range of treatments for Sciatica. We aim to alleviate your pain, improve your mobility, and enhance your overall quality of life. Here's an overview of the treatments we offer:
Injection therapies can offer non-invasive treatment approach for Sciatica. We offer a variety of injections, such as Epidural Steroid Injections, which can reduce inflammation around your nerve roots, and Facet Joint Injections or Medial Branch Block, which can help diagnose the source of your pain and treat it. Sacroiliac Joint Injections are also available to treat pain originating from the sacroiliac joint that may be causing Sciatica.
Advanced Interventional Procedures
For more severe cases of Sciatica, we offer advanced interventional procedures. Sciatica treatment devices, such as Spinal Cord Stimulation, can help manage chronic pain by sending electric signals to the spinal cord. The Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD) procedure can remove excess ligament tissue, causing nerve compression. The Intracept Procedure targets the basivertebral nerve to relieve chronic low back pain. Radiofrequency Ablation is another option that uses heat to hinder the nerve's ability to send pain signals to the brain.
We also offer conventional treatments, including Medication Management Programs to ensure you take the most effective medications for your condition in the safest manner possible. For some patients, an Intrathecal Pain Pump may be beneficial, delivering medication directly to the fluid around the spinal cord. We also provide Referrals to Physical Therapy. Sciatica treatment physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles supporting your spine, improve flexibility, and promote better posture.
Sciatica Alternative Treatment
In collaboration with our sister company, Shakthi Health and Wellness Center, we offer alternative therapies to complement our conventional treatments. These include Acupuncture, which can help relieve sciatica pain, and Infrared Sauna or Amethyst Biomat therapy, which uses heat to help relax muscles and soothe aches.
Surgical Treatment for Sciatica
If conservative and non-invasive treatments do not provide relief, our board-certified surgeons will evaluate your condition. Depending on the severity of your Sciatica, you may be a candidate for a Spinal Fusion or Laminectomy procedure. The type of surgery most appropriate for you will depend on the cause of your sciatic nerve compression and pain.
Our approach to treating Sciatica is holistic and patient-centered. We start by conducting a thorough evaluation to understand your symptoms and medical history. This helps us identify the underlying cause of your Sciatica and develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.
We believe in empowering our patients with knowledge about their conditions and treatment options. We will work closely with you, guiding you through each step of the treatment process, answering your questions, and addressing your concerns.
During your first visit, you'll meet with one of our pain specialists, who will conduct a comprehensive evaluation. Based on the findings, they'll discuss the most appropriate treatment options with you.
How To Get Started
Getting started with us is easy. You can call our office or fill out the appointment request form below. One of our friendly staff will contact you to schedule an appointment at a time that's convenient for you.
We specialize in treating Sciatica using minimally invasive treatments, offering proven success and relief for those in chronic pain.
Patients diagnosed with Sciatica may be good candidates for the following treatments.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of doctor treats Sciatica?
You should consider seeing a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, or rheumatologist as they specialize in the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and autoimmune conditions, respectively. Most importantly, a pain management specialist can provide comprehensive care and treatment options for Sciatica.
When should I see a doctor for Sciatica Pain Specialists?
You should see a doctor if the sciatic pain lasts longer than a week, it's severe or suddenly gets worse, or if you have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder.
What are the benefits of seeing a pain specialist for Sciatica Pain Specialists?
A pain specialist can provide a tailored treatment plan that includes both medication and non-medication treatments, helping you manage your pain and improve your quality of life.
Does insurance cover minimally invasive and traditional Sciatica Pain Specialists treatments?
Coverage varies by insurance company and policy. It's best to contact your insurance provider for specific information about your coverage.
How do I find sciatica treatment near me?
You can use online resources such as the American Chronic Pain Association or the American Board of Pain Medicine to locate treatment centers in your area.
How do I find a sciatica doctor near me?
You can use online directories, like the one provided by the American Medical Association, to find a doctor specializing in treating Sciatica.
What does comprehensive pain management for Sciatica Pain Specialists mean?
Comprehensive pain management involves a multidisciplinary approach to treat the whole person, not just the pain. It could include medications, physical therapy, psychological therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
What doctor to see for Sciatica?
A board-certified doctor has gone through rigorous training and examination in their specialty. Seeing a board-certified sciatica specialist ensures you're getting care from a highly trained professional.
What are the benefits of minimally invasive treatments for Sciatica Pain Specialists?
Minimally invasive treatments typically involve less pain, lower risk of complications, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times compared to more invasive procedures.
What treatments are often used first for Sciatica Pain Specialists?
First-line treatments often include over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy.
What treatments are considered if first-line treatments don't work?
If first-line treatments don't work, your doctor may consider prescription medications, epidural st