Sciatica Isn’t a Prison Riot

A woman putting gel pack on neck on white backgroundIf you’ve ever seen Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, the scene where he chants “Attica” over and over in reference to the famous 1971 prison riot is unforgettable. But when it comes to unforgettable back and leg pain, you could want to chant, “Sci-Attica.”

Sciatica involves inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and it is a common source of back pain and radiating pain down into the legs.

Dr. Tinley helps patients deal with sciatica at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.

What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, stretching from the spinal cord to the end of each leg. It is prone to inflammation, clinically known as sciatica. Sciatica is nerve compression that develops over time.

Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spinal column (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This results in inflammation, pain, tingling, and often numbness down the affected leg served by the nerve. The term sciatica comes from the nerve that is being pinched, the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica treatment

The good news about sciatica treatment is that most people with the condition get better within 6 to 12 weeks. Once Dr. Tinley has diagnosed your condition through physical examination and imaging tests, he’ll start you on a treatment plan that will involve rest, ice packs, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain medications. Anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections may be used. Regular exercise is the key to preventing future flare-ups of sciatica.

Here’s some more information on individual treatment options.

  • Heat/Ice

This is especially important in the initial phase of treatment. Ice or heat is applied for approximately 20 minutes and repeated every two hours. Ice and heat may be alternated, or one may prove more effective than the other.

  • Pain medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen are the first line of pain relief. Dr. Tinley prefers to avoid using prescription options unless absolutely necessary for short-term pain.

  • Epidural steroid injections

When a patient has severe acute pain, Dr. Tinley may use steroid injections. These can be effective because they can be delivered into the painful area surrounding the sciatic nerve. For some patients, these corticosteroid injections can be very effective in relieving pain for up to a year. But in other patients they aren’t effective. These injections will usually allow the patient to begin or return to a conditioning and exercise program.

  • Exercise

Exercise is important to calm sciatica. Exercises focus on stretching (especially the hamstrings), strengthening your core muscles to support your spine, and low-impact aerobics.

If you have the tingling, burning, or numbness of sciatica, it’s time to give us a call at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685. Dr. Tinley can help get you past the pain.

Posted in: Sciatica

Request an Appointment

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call Us Today

(817) 916-4685

(817) 769-3718

Stay Connected