If you have sharp or chronic pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates anywhere from your lower back to your feet, it’s possible that you could be suffering from sciatica. Complaints about pain felt in the lower back are one of the most common reasons a patient visits a pain specialist. Up to 85 percent of Americans experience some back pain during their lives.
If sciatica is the cause of your persistent pain, many treatments are available to help you cope.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica pertains to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. It is an extensive nerve that runs from the lower back to the back of the legs. When something injures the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain – often on one side of the body – in the lower back or spreading to the hip, buttock, or leg.
The symptoms of sciatica tend to appear out of nowhere and can last for days or weeks. It usually results in uncomfortable bouts of pain for weeks at a time, limiting a person’s overall productivity.
Treatments for Sciatica Pain
If you have this kind of severe pain, the first step you should take is to see an orthopedic specialist who can give you a proper diagnosis. If you do indeed have sciatica, your doctor can recommend a variety of interventional pain management treatment types.
Interventional pain management is a subspecialty of pain treatment that offers invasive procedures, including facet joint injections, nerve blocks, neuroaugmentation, and implantable drug delivery systems, among others. Let’s explore some of the most common treatments for sciatica pain.
Many types of medication injections are administered in specific areas of the body to ease sciatic pain. For example, the trigger point injection is used on areas of muscle that contain knots, which are formed when muscles are unable to relax.
Other types of injections include epidural steroid, lumbar interlaminar epidural, caudal epidural, and transforaminal epidural. There are also treatments where injections are administered to facet joints such as the medial branch block, steroid injection to intra-articular facet joint, and radiofrequency ablation of medial branches. For the sacroiliac joint, the intra-articular steroid injection is offered.
With so many injected medications to choose from, it’s important to consult your doctor for the type of injection that will work most effectively for your sciatica.
Neuroablative Procedures for the Sacroiliac Joint
Pain in the sacroiliac joint can be excruciating and debilitating. Two special treatments for it are cooled radio-frequency ablation (RFA) and thermal radio-frequency ablation. These forms of treatment are noninvasive and are a recommended alternative to surgery or injections. The procedures use radio waves to either cool or heat specific areas of nerve tissue. This technique decreases the pain signals coming from the area and effectively alleviates pain.
Advanced Interventions for Low Back Pain
More advanced interventions are often surgical. For example, a patient may undergo removal and replacement of the intervertebral disc with a small bone plug – which fuses with the rest of the vertebrae after some time. This fixes the orientation of the spinal cord and alleviates pain.
This is only one of the many surgical treatments available to relieve sciatic pain in the low back. Make sure to consult your doctor for other options.
Another noninvasive way to alleviate sciatic pain is through different types of therapy. For example, with spinal decompression therapy, the spine is gently stretched to change its position. With spinal cord stimulation (SCS) procedures, low-voltage electrical currents are delivered to the spinal cord to block sensations of pain.
Other therapeutic interventions include thermal annular procedures, the use of intrathecal infusion devices, peripheral nerve field stimulation (PNFS), and high-frequency stimulation. Again, be sure to consult with your doctor to find out what type of therapy you require.
Expert Orthopedic Pain Specialists in the Palm Beaches
You shouldn’t take sciatica pain lightly. At Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches, pain management specialists are open for consultation and regular checkups to find the right pain management method for you. Contact us at (561) 733-5888 or use our online appointment request form.