Sciatica

Sciatica is a prevalent source of discomfort affecting a significant number of individuals globally. If you find yourself grappling with the sharp pain and radiating discomfort associated with sciatic nerve issues, seek relief at Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama. Under the guidance of pain management specialist Dr. Kenneth Varley, MD, our dedicated team offers comprehensive and innovative solutions for sciatica. From conservative approaches to cutting-edge interventional procedures, we tailor our treatments to address the spectrum of sciatic nerve-related symptoms, providing relief and improving your overall quality of life. Don't let sciatica hinder your daily activities – consult with Southern Pain Specialists to explore effective and personalized pain management options.

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What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom resulting from inflammation or irritation of the spinal nerve roots in your lower back which forms the sciatic nerve. Direct irritation of the sciatic nerve after it leaves the spine can also occur. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower part of your spine through your buttocks to the back of your thighs and calves before ending at your feet. It’s located on both sides of your body, though symptoms are typically only felt on one side.

What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Sciatica symptoms may vary depending on the cause of nerve irritation or compression, as well as your daily activities. Possible symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Sharp, shooting pain down the back of your leg.
  • Numbness and tingling in the back of your leg or foot.
  • Buttock pain.
  • Weakness in the muscles of your legs and feet.
  • Pain that’s worse while coughing, sneezing, or having a bowel movement.
  • Pain that’s worse when you bend forward or stretch your hamstrings.
  • Movements that put tension on your sciatic nerve, such as bending forward to tie your shoes, can cause an increase in symptoms. Symptoms may resolve with rest or certain positions, such as lying flat on your back.
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What Causes Sciatica?

There are a number of factors that must be ruled out before diagnosing your condition. Common causes of back and leg pain which may cause or mimic sciatica include:

  • Piriformis syndrome.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
  • Lumbar radiculopathy.
  • Spinal stenosis.
  • Facet joint dysfunction.
  • Arthritis.

How Is Sciatica Diagnosed?

To diagnose sciatica, Dr. Varley begins with a physical exam and diagnostic testing. He may recommend imaging, such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a CAT scan. Advanced diagnostic testing like diagnostic nerve blocks or joint injections may help confirm the diagnosis. These tests help Dr. Varley determine where your nerve pain is coming from and what conditions or anatomical structures are compressing or irritating your sciatic nerve.

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How Is Sciatica Treated?

Based on your diagnosis and the severity of your condition, Dr. Varley discusses which treatment options are best for you. He may recommend one or more of the following options, depending on your specific case:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Epidural steroid injections.
  • Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET).
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
  • Spinal cord or nerve root electrical stimulation (SCS).

Ready to Take Control of Your Pain?

Experience personalized care at Southern Pain Specialists. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Kenneth Varley today.