Sciatica is something that many people, as many as 40%, will experience in their lifetime. However, it is not a disease or condition on its own but is instead a symptom of underlying conditions. There are a variety of reasons sciatica can occur, which also means that the proper care may come from a variety of providers. You will likely need professional assistance in diagnosing the exact cause of your sciatic pain and determining how to best treat it. Many people start with a College Park chiropractor for non-invasive treatment before determining what other providers may need to be involved. If you aren’t sure where to begin with your sciatic pain, this guide may help.
Do I Have Sciatica?
Sciatica generally refers to pain in the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. Beginning in the lower back and spanning down the buttocks, back of the legs, and into the feet, there are many areas of the nerve that can become compressed or compromised. Any interference with the sciatic nerve can lead to a range of painful symptoms. Depending on where the nerve irritation has occurred, symptoms may include:
- Weakness, tingling, numbness, and pain in the lower back and legs
- Constant pain in one (or rarely, both) side of the buttock and leg
- Symptoms that become worse with movements or changes in position
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Pain that radiates down the path of the nerve
- Symptoms lessen when lying down, but worsen when sitting
- Pain that is burning or searing, rather than dull and aching
- Toe and foot pain
- A “pins and needles” sensation
Because most sciatica occurs as a result of degeneration and aging, these symptoms are more likely to appear spontaneously in people middle-aged or older. However, if there has been recent trauma, like a sports or car accident injury, it can appear in a younger population. Common causes of sciatica include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and other injuries.
If you suspect you may be suffering from sciatica, you’ll want to visit a medical provider for lasting relief. While symptoms may disappear over the course of a few days, this does not mean that the underlying condition has improved and you will likely experience symptoms again in the future.
Some people are comfortable starting with their primary care physician at the first sign of symptoms. A PCP will likely recognize the symptoms of sciatica from your description and may prescribe painkillers, rest, and some home remedies like ice and heat therapy. Some physicians will send you for diagnostic imaging like an MRI to rule out some conditions or better understand your pain.
But many people will choose to visit a College Park chiropractor at the first sign of sciatic pain. A chiropractor will know enough about the spine to not only identify your sciatica, but also to begin understanding what could be the cause of your pain. They may be able to perform a physical examination to identify any obvious issues with the spine or recommend the correct diagnostic imaging. Once your chiropractor understands the cause of your sciatica, they can begin developing an appropriate treatment plan.
Other Sciatica Specialists
In addition to a chiropractor, your sciatica team may involve a number of other medical providers who specialize in the condition. Because a nerve is at the center of the pain, a neurologist is likely to be involved as they are able to perform more in-depth diagnostic testing. Neurologists will try and take a conservative, non-invasive approach by partnering with your chiropractor in many cases.
If your condition is severe or does not approve over time, you may also engage with a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. Surgery is usually on the table as a last resort, like when there is rapid loss of leg function, the pain is severely impacting quality of life, or the nerve is damaged. Loss of bowel or bladder function is also an indicator for surgery.
Along with chiropractors, neurologists, orthopedists, and surgeons, your team may include others. Physical therapists can help you to regain strength after treatment or surgery and pain management specialists may become involved to help you cope as you heal.
We offer care from a wide range of specialists for sciatica treatment at Aica College Park. Whether you are in need of a College Park chiropractor, neurologist, orthopedist, or imaging, we are available for comprehensive care. At the first sign of sciatic pain, contact AICA College Park today to schedule your first appointment.