Though the discomfort caused by sciatica can be grueling, the good news is that often all that’s required to cure it is time.

Making it past the pain.

Your Largest Nerve

Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, extending from the back of your pelvis down through the back of your thigh. Sciatica is pain that moves along your sciatic nerve. This pain can move from our back down the front, back or outside of your leg. It can be incredibly painful and can also cause weakness or numbness in severe cases. Nearly all cases of sciatica are caused by a herniated disk, but it can also be a result of spinal stenosis, the pressure of a baby’s head during pregnancy or a number of other factors. Up to 40% of people experience sciatica in their lifetime.

Good News

Though the discomfort caused by sciatica can be grueling, the good news is that often all that’s required to cure sciatica is time. Most cases clear up in less than six weeks. But getting through the pain in those six weeks can be a challenge. That’s where INTEGRIS Health pain management and orthopedic specialists come in. Our team has extensive experience in relieving the pain of sciatica and addressing its underlying root causes.

Understanding Sciatica

The following are the most common symptoms for sciatica. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor. Sciatica symptoms include:

  • Lower back pain that radiates down the buttock and back of 1 thigh
  • Pain that extends from the buttock down to the foot
  • Numbness (in severe cases)
  • Weakness (in severe cases)

If your doctor thinks you might have sciatica, exams and tests may be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. Imaging usually isn’t necessary. Your physician will conduct a thorough physical exam and ask about your health history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease. More advanced diagnostic tests may include:

  • X-Ray: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within your body.
  • Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Study (NCS): A diagnostic procedure conducted together that records and analyzes electrical impulses in your muscles. During the EMG, thin needles are placed in your muscle to record electrical activity. The NCS is often done along with the EMG to determine if a nerve is functioning normally. Electrodes are then placed in various locations on your skin along the nerve pathway. When stimulating the nerve at various places, the doctor can then determine the specific site of the injury.

Sciatica usually heals on its own with rest and time. To help relieve the pain while sciatica heals, treatment may include:

  • Pain Management: Specialists at INTEGRIS will work with you and use a variety of medications and methods to help relieve and manage your pain.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): Such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen and acetaminophen.
  • Heat or Cold Applications: Can help relieve sore muscles.
  • Movement: Keeping your body in motion minimizes inflammation.
  • Surgery: May be necessary to repair a herniated disk if one is present and if the condition persists.

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