Sciatica is a common problem, with some 40% of Americans experiencing it at some point. Common doesn’t mean mild, though. Sciatica pain is often severe and can make you wonder if you have a serious condition.
At Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, our outstanding staff, led by Dr. Jocelyn Idema, treats numerous patients who have sciatica.
Most often, the pain is resolved with noninvasive treatments, and you can resume your life fully recovered. In some cases, sciatica is related to a more serious underlying condition that requires additional care.
A typical case of sciatica
Your sciatic nerve is one of the largest in your body. It’s the longest and the thickest, and it’s made up of five root nerves bundled together. It splits into two, a right and a left, with each branch running over one of your hips, your buttocks, and down your legs, ending near your knees.
When your sciatic nerve is pinched, compressed, or irritated, you experience pain that can be mild to severe. The location of the pain depends on where the nerve is being crowded. You may have pain on just one side, which is most common, or you may have pain on both sides if the nerve is pinched or compressed above the split.
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. The cushions between your vertebrae can become damaged or pressed so that the gel-like filling inside is pressed all to one side. The disc then presses against your sciatic nerve, and you have sciatica.
Once the disc heals and returns to normal, you no longer have the compression, so the sciatica pain resolves. Most of the time, this happens with rest and other conservative treatments such as physical therapy or injections.
More serious causes
Sometimes, sciatica is related to a more complex problem. For example, if you have spinal stenosis, a narrowing of your spinal canal, you may experience the pain of sciatica and have fewer treatment options.
A cyst or tumor can also cause sciatica pain if it’s located in an area where it compresses the nerve. A fracture in your spine, such as Pott’s disease, can lead to sciatica, or it can be due to a complication following hip joint replacement surgery.
So, the short answer to whether sciatica can stem from a serious disease is yes, but the slightly longer answer is yes, but it’s rare.
The pain that sciatica causes can be mild to severe, and if it’s severe, it’s scary. If you’re experiencing pain and think it could be related to your sciatic nerve, schedule an appointment at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center.
The best way to find out if you’re dealing with something that is likely to get better with rest and conservative treatment or a more complex condition is to consult an expert. Dr. Idema can offer treatment suggestions based on a thorough evaluation of your specific situation.
We have three locations for your convenience, in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania, and you’re welcome to schedule by phone or online at any of them.
Book your appointment at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center today and find out the source of your sciatica pain.