Who Should I Go To For My Sciatica
Sciatica is not a disease or a diagnosis. It is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. The term is used to describe nerve pain, tingling, numbness and weakness that travels from the lower back, across the buttocks, down the back of the thighs to the calves and feet.
It occurs when the sciatic nerve the longest in the body gets compacted or aggravated. Common conditions that cause sciatica include herniated lumbar discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis.
Sciatica pain can vary from periodic and mildly inconvenient to constant and incapacitating. Symptoms depend on the location of the nerve impingement or irritation and may include:
- Symptoms intensify during sudden movements or changing positions
- Constant pain in one side of the buttock or leg
- Sharp pain in one leg making it difficult to stand up or walk
- Pain originates in the lower back or buttock and continues along the path of the sciatic nerve
- Pain lessens when lying down or walking but increases when standing or sitting
- Pain is burning, tingling, or searing
- Pain radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes
- Lower back pain is not as severe as leg pain
- A pins-and-needles or prickling sensation, numbness or weakness down the leg
Sciatica is rare among young people. It tends to start appearing in middle age, between the ages of 40 to 50.
Emotional Support Is Important
You may have to lean on friends and family when facing difficult situations caused by chronic pain or other problems. Your loved ones can play an important role in supporting your recovery. Your doctor and community also may give you extra support.
Asking for support from others is not always easy. It can be hard to tell someone about your problems. But don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Where you can get support
- Family. Family members can help you cope by giving you comfort and encouragement.
- Friends. Building strong relationships with others is important for your emotional well-being. Helping is a big part of friendship. At times you may be the one who encourages a friend.
- Counselling. Professional counselling can help you cope with situations that interfere with your life and cause stress. Counselling can help you understand and deal with your pain. You can learn ways to stop negative thoughts. See the topic Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.
- Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started
How friends and family can help
Chiropractor Or Doctor For Back Pain
Back pain is a frustratingly common occurrence in the United States, with nearly 80% of people experiencing back pain sometime in their life, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
If you find yourself experiencing soreness and pain long your spine, it would be best to contact a lower back pain doctor or chiropractor but which one is best for you?
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Complete Guide To Low Back Pain
This article might ease your mind, but what about your back pain? If your pain is becoming chronic , or if you just keep having flare-ups, you may want to dive much deeper into the topic. There arent any easy answers for stubborn back pain, but there is evidence-based hope, and the PainScience.com back pain tutorial explores the topic extremely thoroughly. The main text is written for patients, but its also extensively referenced for keen readers and healthcare professionals. Read the introduction.
Should You Go To A Doctor Or Chiropractor For Back Pain
The answer is always yes.
You should see a back pain doctor or chiropractor. In such a case, theres no difference between a back doctor vs. chiropractor any help is good.
Back pain could resolve itself easily with minor changes in your life, such as switching out your shoes for ones with more supportive souls or buying a firmer mattress.
Often, though, youll need a highly-trained lower back pain doctor to determine how best to treat your back pain. Perhaps theres something wrong with the discs in your back, or theres a pinched nerve somewhere.
You wont know until you have a doctor or chiropractor check your back out.
While you shouldnt ignore back pain, there are many reasons why someone wouldnt want to see a doctor for their spine.
First off, in the United States, back pain doctors or chiropractors tend to congregate in larger cities, meaning they might not be available in your area. Luckily, Beach Pain Center is located just east of downtown Fort Worth.
Secondly, it might cost too much to see them. Most insurance companies should cover you if you have back pain especially if youre growing older. But some might be more skeptical, as many have claimed back pain to acquire insurance benefits. The potential of having to cover medical costs out of pocket could be enough to determine anyone from receiving care.
Youll learn to manage it, but youll never learn to treat it until you go to a doctor or chiropractor.
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Taming The Pain Of Sciatica: For Most People Time Heals And Less Is More
Despite being a less common cause of low back pain, sciatica is still something I regularly see as a general internist. Primary care doctors can and should manage sciatica, because for most individuals the body can fix the problem. My job is to help manage the pain while the body does its job. When a persons symptoms dont improve, I discuss the role of surgery or an injection to speed things up.
Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain
There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:
- Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
- Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
- Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.
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Types Of Low Back Pain
There are many ways to categorize low back pain two common types include:
- Mechanical pain. By far the most common cause of lower back pain, mechanical pain is pain primarily from the muscles, ligaments, joints , or bones in and around the spine. This type of pain tends to be localized to the lower back, buttocks, and sometimes the top of the legs. It is usually influenced by loading the spine and may feel different based on motion , activity, standing, sitting, or resting.
- Radicular pain. This type of pain can occur if a spinal nerve root becomes impinged or inflamed. Radicular pain may follow a nerve root pattern or dermatome down into the buttock and/or leg. Its specific sensation is sharp, electric, burning-type pain and can be associated with numbness or weakness . It is typically felt on only one side of the body.
There are many additional sources of pain, including claudication pain myelopathic pain, neuropathic pain, deformity, tumors, infections, pain from inflammatory conditions , and pain that originates from another part of the body and presents in the lower back .
It is also possible for low back pain to develop with no definitive cause. When this happens, the primary focus is on treating the symptoms and the patients overall health.
Living Well With Sciatica
Many people find that having sciatica is a pain in the butt literally and figuratively. It can stop you from doing everything you want to do, and that often limits activity and can lead to being more sedentarya ripple effect that can have negative impacts on all aspects of your health. If youre experiencing even minor symptoms, get checked by your doctor, suggests Dr. Abitbol.
The longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to treat, so there is no point in waiting to see if it gets better even though your symptoms are worsening, he says, adding that if youve gone for six months or longer, and your symptoms are getting worse, even surgery may not be as gratifying as it could have been at an earlier point. Dr. Abitbol suggests that to prevent issues related to prolonged compression, address the problem as soon as you can.
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Know Your Otc Medications
Nonprescription pain relievers can help with muscle aches and stiffness. The two main types of over-the-counter options are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
True to their name, NSAIDs help lower inflammation that can lead to swelling and tenderness. But acetaminophen does not relieve inflammation. You can reach for either type of pain reliever for occasional back pain. NSAIDs may work a bit better, Hemani says, if you have arthritis of the spine or other inflammatory conditions.
What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
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Is Lower Right Or Left Back Pain Worrisome
Pain on one side of the back is not particularly more worrisome than central pain. There are three main kinds of one-sided back pain:
Most of the anatomy of the low back and abdomen is symmetrical. Some of the guts are not symmetrical, and only some of those is a plausible cause of back pain on one side. Heres some of the key anatomy to consider:
The side of the pain on its own doesnt tell us much, and most of the one-sided sources of pain are viscera that usually cause abdominal pain instead of back pain, or in addition to it. In other words, the only reason to worry about right or left lower back pain is if it is otherwise worrisome: if you have other red flags or significant non-back symptoms.
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Lower Back Pain: How To Tell If Its Muscle
When a patient visits my office with back pain, its my job to uncover the pain generator. We talk through the patients history, discuss their symptoms, and make a determination as to next steps. If need be, I prepare their case to be looked at by a surgeon, but generally, my goal is to help patients avoid surgery and find relief with more conservative measures.
Most cases of back pain are not caused by serious conditions. But its important to always rule out the possibility that a patient has another internal issue that mimics back pain . Colitis, kidney stones, gallbladder issues, vascular problems, or an aneurysm are examples of serious conditions that are capable of causing pain to radiate into the back, making it feel like youre experiencing back pain.
A thorough fact-finding investigation should help determine the cause. When did the pain start? How long did it last? What makes it better or worse? Key to determining the pain generator is the patients description of their condition and their medical history. For example, if a patient describes the pain as having come on suddenly and causing nausea, nearly prompting a trip to the emergency room, then disappearing just as suddenly, they may be suffering from a kidney stone rather than back pain from a spinal condition.
- Muscle pain
- Disc pain
Lets take a look at each type in more detail.
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How Do You Know If It Is Sciatica
The key to diagnosing sciatica is a thorough history and a focused exam. Unfortunately, many patients expect an x-ray or MRI, and doctors, often facing time constraints, order one even though we know imaging tests dont really help us treat early sciatica any better. The Sciatica symptoms are often worse with sitting or coughing and may be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the leg. A physical exam can confirm that the sciatic nerve is involved, and I look for weakness or diminished reflexes in the legs that suggest that someone needs early referral to a specialist. With this information, I can make an initial diagnosis and start treatment.
When To See A Doctor
There is not always an obvious cause of lower back pain, and it often gets better on its own. Resting, trying hot or cold therapy, taking OTC pain relievers, and gently stretching may help speed up recovery.
However, a person should see a doctor for lower back pain that is severe, does not seem to be getting better, or occurs alongside other concerning symptoms, such as tingling or numbness down the legs.
People with lower back pain should seek immediate medical attention if they also have any of the following symptoms:
- difficulty walking or moving the legs
- loss of bowel or bladder function
- loss of sensation in the legs
- very severe pain
A doctor can help a person identify potential causes of lower back pain and recommend appropriate treatment.
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Treatments For Back Pain From A Specialist
A GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are usually done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , which can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain
Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.
Can An Orthopedic Doctor Treat Sciatica
Orthopedic. For a small percentage of sciatica cases, orthopedic surgery may be the best option available for relief, such as a discectomy or laminectomy, both of which removes the source of the pain of sciatica, from herniated discs to bone spurs to other tissues creating pressure against the nerves.
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What Are The Symptoms
Depending on the cause, low back pain can cause a range of symptoms. The pain may be dull or sharp. It may be in one small area or over a broad area. You may have muscle spasms.
Low back pain can also cause leg symptoms, such as pain, numbness, or tingling, often extending below the knee.
A rare but serious problem called cauda equina syndrome can occur if the nerves at the end of the spinal cord are squeezed. Seek emergency treatment if you have weakness or numbness in both legs or you lose bladder or bowel control.
Most low back pain is short-term and will go away in a few weeks. It is more likely to become long-lasting if you are depressed or under stress.
Muscle Strain Or Sprain
A muscle strain or sprain is the most common cause of low back pain.
A strain is a tear or stretching in a tendon or muscle, while a sprain is a tear or stretching in a ligament.
Sprains and strains usually happen when you twist or lift something improperly, lift something heavy, or overstretch your back muscles.
These injuries can cause swelling, difficulty moving, and back spasms.
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Dysfunction Of Sacroiliac Joints
Dysfunction of the sacroiliac joints is also called sacroiliitis. You have two sacroiliac joints, one on each side of your spine where it connects with the top of your pelvis. Sacroiliitis is inflammation of this joint. It can affect one or both sides.
Pain in your lower back and buttocks is the most common symptom. The pain is usually made worse by:
- unexplained weight loss
- pain after a fall or injury
If you need help finding a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.