What is sciatica? | Dr. Andrew Cash, MD Las Vegas, Nevada

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Cash, MD

Sciatica is a common, yet painful nerve condition. It refers to the sciatica nerve and usually only affects one side of the lower body, and in many cases through the thigh and into the foot.  It’s caused by irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar part of the spine and many times can be caused by a herniated disc. There are other potential causes, including a bone spur that is pinching the nerve, or in other more rare cases, infection or tumor. 

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain in the rear or leg that gets worse with sitting
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, pain, or tingling in the leg
  • Shooting pain that makes it hard to stand up

The pain is usually electricity-like shooting pain and is often severe, making it very difficult to get comfortable.   Fortunately, sciatica will likely lessen and improve over the course of time – whether it’s days or weeks.  Depending on the cause of sciatica, your doctor may advise rest and/or temporary reduction of activities to help.  Anti-inflammatory medications can be used to help manage the pain and in severe cases, stronger medications, muscle relaxers, or narcotics might be prescribed to help minimize spasms and alleviate pain.

How do I avoid sciatica from happening?

While sciatica cannot always be prevented, there are ways to help maintain the health of your back, nerves, and muscles.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight: carrying extra weight is hard on your bones and joints
  • Create an exercise plan:  aim to reach your goals of staying active
  • Walk or swim for at least 30 minutes a day: this can help strengthen your back muscles and decrease the likelihood of developing sciatica
  • Focus on good posture: sitting and standing tall can help reduce the chance of pinching a nerve
  • Don’t strain your lower back: lift heavy items properly and avoid exercises that strain the lower back

If you think you’re experiencing sciatica pain, contact your doctor.  Your doctor will get a detailed health history and provide a thorough exam, which will likely allow for a diagnosis. An MRI may be needed to determine the exact cause of sciatica. 

Contact Dr. Cash at Desert Institute of Spine Care for an appointment at: http://www.disclv.com

You can also view Dr. Cash's Verified Reviews® at www.medrounds.org/Dr_Andrew_Cash or his personal page at www.andrew-cash-md.com.