How to diagnose and treat sciatica?
Sciatica can cause pain and numbness in the back and in other regions as well - basically anywhere in the body but usually below the back (below knees, buttocks, back of legs.) The pain happens when pressure is oput on a nerve called the sciatic nerve. the pain may be either dull and persistent or spasmodic. Muscle weakness and tingling are often accompanying symptoms. The pain can often be exacerbated by the slightest movement including sneezing or even laughing. Initially, while the problem is waiting to resolve itself, the patient may be given painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs. More stubborn cases sometimes respond to physiotherapy or a visit to the chiropractice clinic or to an osteopath. In acute cases where all mthods of relieving severe pain have been tried, then an epidural injection may be adminsistered to the spine as a sort of local anaesthetic.
Sciatica is diagnosed by a targeted history and a impartial exam. The family doctor will interview the patient about symptoms. Even though the doctor may be able to diagnose sciatica based on history and physical examination, sometimes an X-ray or an MRI of the spine column, are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
In many cases, sciatica will improve and will disappear by itself, gradually. Initial treatment focuses on medicines and exercises to relieve pain.
Pain can be relieved by:
-putting an ice bag in the middle lumbar (lower portion of the back)
-avoid sitting position (unless it is more comfortable than standing)
-alternating laying in bed with short walks , walking distance being increased as the pain allows
- use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) .
Treatment alternatives for sciatica, depend on causes which irritated the nerve. If symptoms do not improve, the GP may recommend:
-infiltration with corticosteroids
-or surgical treatment in severe cases.