It is common to experience lower back or leg pain at some point in your life, but the causes can vary greatly from individual to individual. In some cases, this pain is referred to as sciatica – a general term for the collective symptoms of another underlying cause. Sciatica often is meant to describe the leg and lower back pain that could be accompanied by tingling, numbness or weakness, all attached to the sciatic nerve. However, sciatica is not by itself a medical diagnosis, but rather a collection of symptoms.
While each individual can have a different experience with sciatica nerve pain, there are commonalities that present. For some individuals, constant pain in one leg or side of the buttock that intensifies when sitting is often the first sign of sciatica symptoms, while leg pain that is described as burning or pulsing can also describe sciatic nerve pain. Similarly, individuals may feel weakness of the foot or leg, made evident by an inability to move it with ease. Sciatica pain can also make it challenging to sit, stand or walk without intense, pulsing discomfort. Sciatica pain is caused by an underlying condition, one of the most common being a herniated disc or slipped disc.
- Pain occurs when sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time
- Pain is made worse when laughing, coughing, bowel movements and sneezing
- Feeling a weakness in their leg or foot may occur, as well as the inability to move it
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
The vertebrae in the spinal cord are cushioned by discs meant to protect bones from the shock of daily activity. Symptoms of a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, are similar to those of sciatica and can include tingling, aching or burning in the lower back or leg. Herniated disc symptoms also present through pain and numbness targeted on one side of the body, or pain that extends to an arm or leg. Similar to sciatic nerve pain, herniated disc symptoms include pain caused by a ruptured disc that is worse when an individual stands or sits, or when walking for long distances.
- Muscle numbness and tingling
- Burning sensations
- Aching of the lower back and leg
- Weak handgrip strength
How to Treat Sciatic Nerve Pain
While treating sciatica is not identical for all patients, there are a number methods available on how to treat sciatic nerve pain that do not include surgery. For most individuals wondering how to how to treat sciatica, regular exercise is often the first step. It can go a long way in reliving long-term pain and discomfort. However, when treating sciatica through regular exercise is not efficient, severe cases may require a more structured approach. Treating sciatica could include a regimen of heat and ice, pain medications or epidural injections.
How to Treat a Herniated Disc
Treatment for a herniated disc may be similar to treatment of sciatic nerve pain, but will depend greatly on the severity of the disc damage. Treating a herniated disc typically begins with pain medication, while cold therapy can also be used treatment for a herniated disc. Medications used in herniated disc treatment are anti-inflammatory in nature, meant to reduce swelling, or can be a muscle relaxant or pain killer to reduce acute pain. Herniated disc treatment options may also include spinal injections or physical therapy, the latter designed to decrease pain while increasing flexibility.
Herniated disc treatment options and sciatica treatment options best prescribed by a medical professional with ample experience in non-surgical treatments. If you are wondering how to treat a herniated disc and the sciatica pain that comes with it, contact Silver State Spine Care to speak with a spine specialist about your options for non-surgical treatment, today.