4 things to know about sciatica

Ashley Rogerson, MD is a Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA.Your sciatic nerve is your body’s longest nerve and one of your most important ones, having a direct effect on your ability to control your legs. Sciatica is commonly described as a sharp, shooting pain or burning feeling that runs down one side of your buttock or leg.

We asked Ashley Rogerson, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in the Spine Center at Tufts Medical Center, to provide information that Greater Bostonians should know about sciatic pain and the treatment options available.

1.  Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the lower body and the pain radiates from the lower back and continues down the leg.

Other symptoms include:

  • Constant pain in one leg or buttock
  • Pain that feels better when you lie down or are walking
  • A tingling sensation in one leg
  • A severe or shooting pain in one leg

2.  Sciatica is common and most likely to develop around age 40-50 and some research shows it will affect up to 43% of the population at some point.

Sciatica is most typically caused by age-related degenerative changes in the lumbar spine but can also be caused by a disc herniation.The most common causes for sciatica include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Sacroiliac joint disfunction

3.  Most people can find pain relief through a combination of heat, ice and over the counter medication.

Other non-surgical options may include injections or prescription medication. The Pain Management Center at Tufts Medical Center is a member of the Spine Center and specializes in managing back pain.

4. If you continue to experience pain after trying the methods above, you should make an appointment with a spine expert.

If needed, there are a number of surgical options that treat the underlying cause of your sciatic nerve pain. Dr. Rogerson and her colleagues in the Spine Center at Tufts MC offer a number of options. We work with patients to tailor treatment to fit your symptoms and lifestyle. 

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