If you’ve been feeling chronic pain that starts in your lower back and radiates down your legs, you might be experiencing something called sciatica. Sciatica is a common, but often painful, condition that affects up to 40% of people in their lifetime, especially as you get older.
Dr. Brian Subach and the team at Subach Spinal Solutions are experts at diagnosing and treating sciatica, along with other spinal and neurological conditions for our patients in the Arlington, Virginia, area.
Read on to learn about the common causes of sciatica and what treatment methods are available to help you get much-needed relief.
While regular back pain can be easily confused with sciatica, the most notable difference is that sciatica originates from the sciatic nerves, which run from your lower lumbar spine, through your buttocks, and down the back of each leg. The pain from sciatica usually occurs when something pinches or irritates the nerves as they exit your lumbar spine.
What causes sciatica?
While the sciatic pain might not always feel severe, understanding and addressing the root cause of your sciatica can help significantly relieve the pain and discomfort. That’s why our team at Subach Spinal Solutions is here to help you understand what may be causing your sciatica.
Of all the causes of sciatica, age is usually the main culprit. As you get older, your spine begins to deteriorate, which can lead to herniated discs and bone spurs.
Herniated discs happen when the soft, gel-like core of your spinal disc gets pushed through a crack or tear in the outer layer. If a herniated disc starts pressing on surrounding nerves, the result is typically some form of back or neck pain.
Bone spurs, another symptom of an aging body, form where your bones meet, causing pain when they irritate or compress nearby nerves.
2. Excess weight
Carrying excess weight puts a great deal of strain on your spine over time, which can lead to sciatica. If you’re overweight or obese and have sciatica, we suggest trying low-impact exercises to help you lose excess weight and relieve the symptoms of sciatica.
3. Sitting for too long
Do you tend to sit for hours at a time without getting up or moving around? This can actually put you at risk for sciatica. Prolonged sitting, especially in a slouched position, can weaken your spine and lead to sciatica. So, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, try to set a reminder for yourself to get up and stretch at least once an hour.
4. Work-related strain
Work that involves picking up heavy objects or repeated twisting of your back may also eventually cause sciatica. To combat the strain on your spine, remember to avoid bending over to pick up heavy objects, and wear back support equipment if necessary.
Get the relief you need
If you’re experiencing the painful symptoms of sciatica, we’re here to help. Dr. Subach takes the time to understand and analyze your symptoms before coming up with a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. If your pain is caused by sciatica, he typically starts with conservative and interventional treatments, including:
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Anti-inflammatory and pain medication
- Spinal injections (if therapy and medication aren’t helping)
If conservative treatments fail to help, Dr. Subach may suggest spinal surgery to decompress your nerves. If a herniated disc is causing your pain, he may recommend either removing the herniated disc or removing the entire disc and fusing the adjacent vertebrae to improve stability in your spine.
If you choose to go this route, don’t fear — you can trust that you’re in good hands. Dr. Subach is a highly experienced spine surgeon with years of experience. Guided by a state-of-the-art Mazor robotic system, he plans and performs surgery with total control and precision.
For patients who have extensive nerve damage that can’t be resolved with surgery, we also offer the Nevro HF10™ spinal cord stimulator, which delivers gentle electrical impulses to your brain to block the pain signals. This significantly reduces your pain and helps you get through your day-to-day activities without feeling the symptoms of sciatica.
If you’re ready to be free from the painful effects of sciatica, contact our Arlington, Virginia, office today by calling 571-732-0044 or requesting an appointment online.