Exploring Sciatica And Effective Management Options

You may be experiencing an unusual pain running down from your lower back along the entire leg. This can be distressing due to other related symptoms like numbness and tingling sensation. Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica could be the reason. 

Dr. Patrick S. McNulty is a renowned orthopedic surgeon who can offer a detailed understanding of sciatica, in addition to advanced diagnosis, and state-of-the-art treatment options to provide symptomatic relief. 

Exploring sciatica 

Sciatica is a pain that originates due to the compression or impingement of the sciatic nerve. This is the longest and the widest nerve in your body that controls several muscles in the lower body.

It is believed at least 40% of people can experience sciatica at some point in life. 

Sciatica is not a medical condition in itself, but a symptom of several medical conditions, such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Tumors
  • Cysts 
  • Injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease 
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis

Anyone can suffer from sciatica, but certain risk factors can increase the likelihood. These include:

  • Age (peaks in your 30s and 40s)
  • History of injury or accidents
  • Being overweight (obesity)
  • Insufficient core strength
  • Sitting for a prolonged time
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Certain occupations involving heavy lifting, or driving for long hours 
  • Smoking and excess alcoholism

Exploring the clinical manifestations of sciatica 

Sciatica ranges in severity, exhibiting the following features:

  • An excruciating pain that radiates till  your legs
  • Numbness and discomfort 
  • Paraesthesia (a tingling sensation)
  • Muscle weakness and spasms due to atrophy
  • Mobility restriction
  • Urinary and bowel incontinence
  • Pain may worsen after prolonged sitting or with coughing or sneezing

A comprehensive diagnostic guide 

When you approach a healthcare professional for sciatica, a comprehensive evaluation of the symptoms and medical history will be determined. Your doctor will further review your past injuries, family history, and lifestyle habits.

A physical examination performed will provide details about pain, numbness, and paresthesia, in addition to mobility and flexibility details. 

The following diagnostic tests will be advised to tailor a customized treatment plan according to your needs:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • CT scans

Treating sciatica to relieve symptoms 

Based on the cause and severity of the condition, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:

Mild cases 

  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Prescription painkillers, and NSAIDs
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal injections 

Severe cases 

  • Lumbar laminectomy to widen spinal canal
  • Discectomy to relieve nerve compression


Sciatica is a common symptom of several medical conditions.  But, you do not have to put up with the pain and discomfort, since it can impair your routine activities. Seek timely medical help and get yourself treated to prevent any unwanted complications, and enhance your quality of life. You deserve to live a pain-free life. 

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