Anyone who has ever experienced sciatica is well aware of the pain it can cause. Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed, sending shooting, stabbing pain into the lower back and down one leg.
Finding the right treatment or combination of treatments is key to getting relief from sciatica and preventing it from coming back. A pain management expert is your best resource in the battle against sciatica.
Glenn Flanagan, MD, of Naples Regenerative Institute in Naples, Florida, is an expert in interventional spine and pain management, and he can help you get control over sciatica pain. In this blog, he explains what sciatica is and how you can get relief.
What is sciatica?
Most people never think about their sciatic nerve unless they experience problems. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It forms in the lower spine and branches down each leg.
When there are no problems, you don’t have to give your sciatic nerve much thought. However, a variety of circumstances can result in a pinching, irritation, or compression of the sciatic nerve, setting the stage for sciatica.
Understanding sciatica pain
Sciatica normally affects one side of the body at a time, starting in the lower back and down the back of one leg. If you have sciatica, you may experience the following sciatica symptoms:
- Leg pain
- Shooting pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve
- Burning or tingling sensations in the leg
- Leg weakness in some cases
- Muscle Cramping
- Restless Legs
Sciatica pain tends to worsen when the spine is flexed or bent forward, with activities like sitting or bending over.
Patients who visit us at Naples Regenerative Institute receive individualized care. First, Dr. Flanagan performs a comprehensive evaluation to make a diagnosis. Then he creates a treatment plan to help ease your pain, reduce the risk of complications, and prevent sciatica from returning.
Successful treatment often involves a combination of therapies to ease your pain and address the underlying cause. Dr. Flanagan offers cutting-edge therapies that take advantage of the body’s natural healing abilities. Here are a few of those therapies.
Prolotherapy involves injecting a medical solution into targeted areas to trigger the growth of new, healthy tissue. The goal is to help the body heal itself so that the sciatica pain resolves.
Bone Marrow Progenitor and Stem Cell therapy
Mesenchymal stem cells and stromal progenitor cells found in bone marrow are unique, specialized cells. They can self-renew and divide to form multiple types of cells found in the musculoskeletal system like bone, muscle, cartilage, tendon and ligament tissue. When injected into a targeted area, stem cells and progenitor cells can aid the natural healing process and reduce painful chronic inflammation, leading to healthier tissue. Dysfunctional tissue and painful inflammation is often a major cause of sciatica pain and orthopedic pain in general.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy
You can think of platelets as first responders. When you have an injury, your body releases platelets, which travel to the damaged tissue and kick off the healing process. Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves drawing some of your blood, separating the platelets and plasma from it, and injecting the platelet rich plasma into your damaged tissue where platelets will be stimulated to release growth factors involved in tissue repair through a strong, natural healing process.
Physical therapy is often recommended along with other therapies to ease sciatica pain. Active and passive exercises for sciatica are designed to strengthen and improve flexibility of the lower back, core, buttocks, and thighs. The goal is to restore pain-free movement.
Preventing the recurrence of sciatica
Preventing sciatica from coming back involves understanding the root cause. Common sciatica risk factors include:
- Lack of exercise
- Herniated disc
- Prolonged sitting
- Injury to the lower spine
- Degenerative diseases of the spine, such as osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.
Addressing the underlying cause may help keep sciatica at bay for good.
If you’re struggling with sciatica pain, we can help. Our advanced solutions can address the root cause of your pain and give you relief and healing. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Naples Regenerative Institute today.