Board Certified Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon located in Portland, OR
Sciatica is renowned for causing excruciating pain that shoots down your leg. If you struggle with sciatica or find that you must curtail your activities due to the pain, Jeffrey Johnson, MD, at Portland Neurosurgery in Portland, Oregon, can help. Dr. Johnson offers long-term, comprehensive care for sciatica, including a wide range of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options. You don’t need to keep dealing with the pain. Call the office or book an appointment online to start on the road to recovery.
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the symptoms that develop when part of the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. The sciatic nerve is actually a group of individual nerve roots that run down your spine. At the lower levels of the spine these nerve roots exit the spine to travel down your left and right buttocks, hips, legs, and feet.
You can develop sciatica when a sports injury or fall damages the nerves. But sciatica is most often caused by a back condition that pinches one or more of these nerve roots, such as:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet joint arthritis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Thickened spinal ligaments
- Bone spurs
A herniated disc is responsible for the majority of all cases.
What symptoms develop if I have sciatica?
Sciatica is well known for causing lower back pain along with pain that radiates down one leg. The severity of pain varies for each person, but most patients describe it as a debilitating, electric-shock pain.
You may also have other symptoms that radiate along the nerve such as tingling and a burning sensation. You can also experience numbness instead of pain and in severe cases, muscle weakness develops in your leg and/or foot.
You may feel the pain all the time, or it could get worse when you laugh, cough, sneeze, bend, or twist. By comparison, lying down often helps ease the pain.
How is sciatica treated?
Dr. Johnson offers many different treatment options. Your treatment plan may include:
Self-care and flare up prevention
Dr. Johnson teaches you the steps to take at home to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain, such as ice and heat and gentle stretching. He also helps you prevent flare-ups with lifestyle tips that minimize stress on your lower spine.
If over-the-counter pain relievers don’t help, Dr. Johnson may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants. Steroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents that you can take orally or that Dr. Johnson can refer you to have injected into your spine.
Staying active is important and physical therapy helps to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and restore strength and movement. You may receive many possible treatments as part of your physical therapy, from massage to ultrasound therapy or traction.
Surgery is the last option, reserved for when all other treatments fail to alleviate your pain or your symptoms are severe. When you decide to have surgery, Dr. Johnson recommends the best procedure for the underlying cause of your sciatica.
If you have pain that shoots down one or both legs, call Portland Neurosurgery or schedule an appointment online today.