by Dr. Michael Baranov, PT, June 16, 2015
Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that radiates along your sciatic nerve which runs down your legs from your lower back. If you have this problem, it makes sense that you would want to know your options. We believe that we provide the best sciatica treatment in Fresh Meadows and below you will learn why.
First, sciatica is treatable by a physical therapist. Some of the symptoms of sciatica are:
- Sharp pain that makes it difficult to walk or stand.
- Numbness, weakness or difficulty moving your foot or leg.
- Leg pain that causes a burning or tingling sensation.
- Constant pain in one side of your leg or buttock.
- Sciatica pain can be infrequent, constant or incapacitating.
There are Options for Sciatica Treatment – Pros & Cons
Massage: Trigger-point therapy. A massage therapist applies pressure to irritated and inflamed areas as well as in muscles in your piriformis muscle, gluteus and lower back. The problem with treatment from a massage therapist is that they don’t have the training to recognize sciatica as compared to other conditions that mimic sciatica like piriformis syndrome, IT Band Syndrome, referred pain from the lower back, etc.
Steroid Injections: This is a corticosteroid medication that a doctor injects into the area around the nerve root. It helps reduce pain, but the effects often wear off after a few months. The problem with steroid injections is that they are invasive, can result in infection, even good doctors can miss the area they need to inject, and of course, the worst case scenario, is that they can be fatal.
Here’s some information about the risks as reported on Spine Health:
Potential Risks of Epidural Steroid Injections
As with all invasive medical procedures, there are potential risks associated with lumbar epidural steroid injections. In addition to temporary numbness of the bowels and bladder, the most common potential risks and complications include:
Infection. Severe infections are rare, occurring in 0.1% to 0.01% of injections.
Dural puncture (“wet tap”). A dural puncture occurs in 0.5% of injections. It may cause a post-dural puncture headache (also called a spinal headache) that usually improves within a few days. Although infrequent, a blood patch may be necessary to alleviate the headache. A blood patch is a simple, quick procedure that involves obtaining a small amount of blood from a patient from an arm vein and immediately injecting it into the epidural space to allow it to clot around the spinal sac and stop the leak.
Bleeding. Bleeding is a rare complication and is more common for patients with underlying bleeding disorders.
Nerve damage. While extremely rare, nerve damage can occur from direct trauma from the needle, or from infection or bleeding.
Exercise: Exercises such as stretches and walking can help reduce symptoms and strengthen the muscles that support your back. The pros about exercise are clear. Affordable, sometimes effective, and there is a low risk of side effects. While a personal trainer could give you the exercises, it’s best to get them from a licensed and trained physical therapist for the reasons mentioned above. You want to make sure you are doing the right exercises. You don’t want to waste your time doing things that won’t help and worst case scenario, you get the wrong exercises and and they make you worse.
Compression Packs: You can use either cold or hot packs to ease the pain. Pros – easy, cheap, can provide some temporary relief. The cons regarding the use of thermal modalities (heat/ice) is that it is usually temporary.
Physical Therapy – the Clear First Choice
A good outpatient physical therapy clinic can provide sciatica treatments. A therapist focuses on strengthening, stretching and aerobic conditioning. Many of these therapies serve to build up your back and abdominal muscles which are often involved when sciatica is the diagnosis.
Moreover, they can apply heat, issue, implement some soft tissue massage techniques if necessary, and most important, they can make sure that the right area is being treated. A regular program can help prevent future episodes of pain and stiffness.
If you have pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down into your buttock, thigh, and even your leg, you should set up an appointment and see us. If you are looking for one of the best sciatica treatment specialists in Fresh Meadows, look no more. Just give us a call.