Sciatic Nerve PainDr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
As the longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve begins at the L4, L5 or S1 regions of the lower spine. It travels through the buttock, hamstrings and lower leg. Sciatic nerve pain is classified as sciatica, and it is most commonly associated with leg pain. Given the many causes of leg pain, including direct trauma or even referred pain from another injury, sciatica is easily misdiagnosed. Even so, when there is inflammation or compression of the sciatic nerve (from a herniated disc), individuals can experience varying degrees of pain in the leg.
Sources and Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain
- Bulging disc
- Degeneration of the spine
- Facet joint injury, syndrome
- Piriformis syndrome
- Stenosis of the spine
- Sacroiliac (SI) dysfunction
A number of symptoms are associated with sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, including tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the leg. Though pain consistently begins in the low back, it may travel to the buttock and other areas of the affected leg, such as the calf and even the foot. Common symptoms related to sciatic nerve pain include:
- Pain in the buttock and leg that increases when sitting
- Burning or tingling sensation down the leg
- Difficulty moving the leg or foot (due to weakness)
- Concentrated pain on one side or the rear calf muscle
- Severe, shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Treatment and Rehabilitation for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Identifying sciatic nerve pain (sciatica) requires an understanding of its behavior, including specific symptoms and the path of a patient’s pain. Even so, while symptoms may clearly point to sciatica, discovering the exact location of the compressed sciatic nerve is a critical component for effective treatment and long-term pain relief.
Physiatrists remain in the best position to classify sciatic nerve pain. With special adherence to a patient’s spine and legs, selective testing will be administered to detect muscle weakness, sensory deficits or altered muscle activity and reflexes in the affected leg or foot. Leaving no stone unturned, specialists investigate a patient’s complete health history to rule out serious conditions that may also cause sciatic nerve pain such as fracture, infection or cancer. With a confirmed diagnosis of sciatica, initial treatment will focus on pain management and reducing inflammation. Rest, ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, acupuncture, ultrasound, massage, TENS machine or posture supports and bracing may be used.
Once pain and inflammation are settled, more concentrated rehabilitation can take place. Under the direction of the physiatrist, therapists will lead patients in core stabilization, guided exercises for restoring range of motion and proper alignment, muscle recruitment training, swimming or hydrotherapy. Also an important part of rehabilitation is patient education and awareness of body mechanics, including posture and positioning. This may include small changes in the way patients perform everyday activities. For athletes, this may include modification of their training or conditioning to prevent sciatic nerve compression.
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Tenafly, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
If you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain, you are invited to contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute to schedule your appointment today.