Sciatica is a complaint that is tossed around quite frequently in the context of burning low back pain that shoots down a person’s buttocks, legs, and/or feet. And you’ve probably heard about sciatica or have mentioned it yourself! If you’ve had sciatica symptoms, there’s a good chance a friend has recommended their favorite treatment or therapist to help you find some relief.
But did you know that sciatica is not actually a disease? Sure, it’s a real thing, but sciatica is a symptom, and not the disease or condition itself. The condition is called lumbar radiculopathy. Oftentimes, the terms sciatica and lumbar radiculopathy are used interchangeably. Lumbar refers to the lower back area and radiculopathy is a disease of the root of a nerve.
For those of you who have experienced the pain of lumbar radiculopathy or an actual pinched nerve, the pain is very excruciating. The sufferer commonly experiences burning pain shooting down the leg. And the pain is so bad it will stop you in your tracks.
The common denominator for most back pain problems is spinal instability. Injury to the ligaments of the back occurred at some point. And typically from bending over and twisting with the knees in a locked position, which then stretched the ligaments, and made them vulnerable to injury. The result is weak and lax ligaments. And when ligaments of the lumbar spine are weak, the vertebrae can slip out of place and pinch the nerve.
Chiropractors treat sciatica symptoms with much success and should be the first practitioners to see for this condition. You can also try treatments like massage and stretching for relief. But these therapies will only work on the surrounding muscles, and any relief will very likely be temporary.
If ligaments are weakened, the muscles will be going into spasm. That’s because muscles spasm in an effort to stabilize the area that is currently unstable due to the ligament injury. Muscle-strengthening may be of benefit too. But remember that the underlying injury of the ligaments needs to be addressed. Regenerative Orthopedic treatments, such as Prolotherapy or PRP, are great options for addressing ligament injuries. And they are effective at both repairing and strengthening these types of soft tissue injuries.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are frequently used, but they are not reparative. So when you reach for an aspirin, Advil, or some other over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever, know that this is not a fix. Your physician may recommend prescription NSAID’s. But again, NSAID’s do not repair the injury. They may give you some relief, but they will not fix the underlying problem or heal the injury.
If sciatica symptoms do not resolve on their own and the pain continues, a cortisone injection may be recommended by your physician. Epidural cortisone injections may reduce the size of stressed nerve roots, but they do have side effects. Studies have shown that cortisone causes tissue like the ligaments to grow weaker. So, if weak tissue is the source of the problem, to begin with, then why use something that may make the problem worse? Instead, the spinal instability that is allowing the vertebral segments to move excessively needs to be addressed, so the pain can stop!
Have you tried painkillers and found no lasting relief? Until the source of the problem is addressed, you may find yourself exhausted and frustrated at the failure of various therapies to provide long-lasting relief. Not to mention treatments that are ineffective at relieving lumbar radiculopathy and the sciatica symptoms.
Are antidepressants and anticonvulsants being recommended? Although you may be depressed because of unending pain, good chance depression is not the source of your back pain. And what about the use of anticonvulsants to treat sciatica? In a 2018 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the writers note that the commonly used anticonvulsant medication for sciatica called “pregabalin does not improve symptoms of sciatica but frequently has adverse effects.”[i]
Have you exhausted conservative care options? And have you progressed to stronger medications like painkillers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants, and are possibly facing the recommendations of surgery? Then it is time to look into a solution that actually repairs the injury. Regenerative Orthopedics can provide an effective option that results in relief and repair while utilizing a non-surgical solution for those with persistent sciatica symptoms and lumbar radiculopathy.
If you are facing surgery for relief from your symptoms, minimally invasive spine surgery may be the surgery you are considering. Surgery may give you relief. However, studies have shown that although there may be a rapid decrease in pain and disability after a few months, years down the road patients still experience mild to moderate pain post-surgery.[ii]
Why choose surgery and treatments with side effects? Or those which also lack benefit when there is another option? Choose the path that actually repairs the injury and solves the problem. Regenerative Orthopedics is non-surgical, plus it is effective.
At OrthoRegen®, we treat all of the involved areas of the low back, including the injured ligaments and their attachments to stimulate the body’s own natural healing process. The treatment boosts the blood supply to the injured areas. And that brings reparative cells to the ligaments so they can heal. Remember that when the ligaments are weak, they allow for too much movement of the vertebrae. And with this extra movement a nerve can get pinched.
Regenerative Orthopedic treatments to these areas strengthen and tighten the ligaments. That leads to stabilization of the lumbar spine, which stops the excessive movement, and repairs the underlying problem. The result is pain relief. Regenerative Orthopedics is effective at bringing pain relief and return to function for those suffering from sciatica symptoms and lumbar radiculopathy.
[ii] Machado GC, Witzleb AJ, Fritsch C, Maher CG, Ferreira PH, Ferreira ML. Patients with sciatica still experience pain and disability 5 years after surgery: A systematic review with meta-analysis of cohort studies. Eur J Pain. 2016 May 12.[Google Scholar]