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Improving Sciatica Without Surgery
Sciatica is pain that goes down the back of the thigh and through the lower leg, which is along the path of the sciatic nerve. It is usually the result of one or more of the nerves in the spine becoming irritated. In many cases, sciatica pain can be overcome in as little as a few weeks without resorting to surgery. spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City has successfully treated many patients with sciatica symptoms without having to perform surgery.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The symptoms of sciatica are not consistent for every patient. It can be a mild ache that is just a minor annoyance, or it can be debilitating pain that begins in the lower back and travels all the way down the legs. In addition to pain, there can be numbness or tingling sensations. Muscle weakness in the thigh, calf or foot is another trait for some sciatica patients. Occasionally symptoms are present on both sides of the body, but more often it only occurs on one side.
What are the risk factors for getting it?
There are a number of causes for sciatica. It occurs more often in people who live a more sedentary lifestyle than those who are active in their daily lives. However, it is possible for sciatica to creep up in athletes who tend to have sore or overworked muscles. Age is a factor in the occurrence of sciatica, with most patients being diagnosed at age 30 or older. That is often linked to the fact that the spine deteriorates with age and related back problems can occur. Common issues are herniated discs, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, or hip joint dysfunction. Other contributors to sciatica are obesity and diabetes.
What types of treatments help avoid surgery?
Dr. Fischer offers a variety of treatment options that may do the trick in relieving sciatica symptoms. One of the first lines of defense is physical therapy to learn simple techniques that can help. A key idea is to improve core and back strength so that your spine and abdomen can support your body more effectively. Gentle exercises are taught that target these areas and improve your posture, realign your spine, and improve your hip and hamstring flexibility. Yoga is also a great tool that may help sciatica patients experience relief and long-term benefits. Dr. Fischer in will likely advise avoiding high-impact exercises like running during sciatica recovery.
If pain is causing great discomfort, medications may be prescribed. The most common medications for sciatica include anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, narcotics, or epidural steroid injections. Dr. Fischer will suggest the most appropriate medications for your symptoms and pain level.
Sometimes sciatica pain can be helped by applying cold packs to the affected area a few times a day for up to 20 minutes. After a few days if pain persists, switching to a heating pad may help. Some patients get relief by alternating cold and hot for a time.
Alternative treatments are another method in treating sciatica. Chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture are a few ways some patients find relief. Speaking with a qualified and experienced specialist like Dr. Fischer is a good way to get on the right treatment plan. Some physicians do turn to surgery as a last resort, but most of the time being patient while pursuing non-invasive treatments will pay off and symptoms will dissipate within a few weeks or months.