At Unique Pain Medicine of New York, our board certified physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Sciatica.
We offer Sciatica treatments in our Manhattan and Brooklyn locations.
Sciatica – Pain, numbness or weakness that starts from the low back and travels into the leg and foot.
The cause of Sciatica is usually a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. This type of nerve pain usually starts from the back or the buttock and travels into one or both legs. Patients typically experience shooting pain, numbness and weakness of the involved extremity. The pain can be severe, making it difficult to walk, sleep or work. Sitting may be more painful than standing. Sciatica can be extremely painful and treatment should be initiated when symptoms appear.
A bulging disc happens when a weakened or deteriorated disc shifts outside of its normal place between the bones of the spine. Usually this occurs slowly over a long period of time as we age, or as a result of an acute injury such as lifting a heavy object. Bulging discs are common. When a disc is acutely displaced, nerves frequently become pinched and inflamed, causing pain and numbness in the buttock, leg and foot.
Sciatica is a treatable condition. Proper treatment and rehabilitation usually results in resolution of symptoms and full recovery. If symptoms are severe or have lasted for more than 2 weeks, please see a physician as soon as possible.
Sciatica and herniated disc FAQ
Why does sciatica occur?
Sciatica usually occurs because of bulging and herniated discs in the lumbar spine. Herniated discs become inflamed and frequently “pinch” nerves that are traveling from the pelvis into the leg. When these nerves become irritated, patients will typically experience shooting pain and numbness in leg and foot.
What is a herniated disc?
A normal disc lies between the bones of the spine. When a disc herniates, it leaves its normal location and is pushed backwards or to the side. The nerves that typically travel along the bones of the spine become irritated and “pinched” by the herniated disc.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
An MRI is the test of choice if sciatica is suspected. An MRI will show which discs are involved and to what degree.
How is sciatica treated?
Treatment should be initiated once sciatica is diagnosed. The choice of treatment will depend on the patients’ symptoms and the MRI findings.
Treatments for Sciatica include:
- Physical Therapy and rest
- Anti-inflammatory and nerve pain medication
- Epidural steroid injection – Transforaminal Epidural or Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
What is an epidural steroid injection?
If sciatica is causing symptoms and more conservative approaches have failed, an epidural steroid injection should be attempted. The doctor will place an anti-inflammatory steroid medication around the inflamed nerves. This causes rapid pain relief and decreases the swelling around pinched nerves and damaged discs. The procedure is generally not painful and is done in the office setting. There is no downtime after. Pain relief can be dramatic, allowing the patient to return to normal activities.
Epidural Steroid Injection for Sciatica Video
Are there any side effects to epidural steroid injections?
Side effects are very rare and tend to be mild and easy to manage. Some possible side effects include temporary facial flushing, small increase in blood pressure, increased appetite, menstrual changes in women, and elevated blood sugar in diabetics.
Is an epidural injection painful?
An epidural injection is minimally uncomfortable and very well tolerated. They can be done with local anesthesia or IV sedation if desired. If you have a fear of needles and would rather not feel the injection, you will be given the option to receive IV sedation, which makes the procedure painless. Your doctor will discuss this option with you.
How many epidural injections do I need?
There is no specific number of injections that is recommended in all cases. Every patient and situation is different. We start with 1 injection and wait two weeks to see how the patient improves. If 1 injection alleviates all symptoms, no other injection is recommended. Some patients will require 2 injections for full pain relief. A limited number of patients may require 3 injections. Every patient is evaluated two weeks after an epidural injection to determine the next best course of action.
How long does a bulging disc take to heal?
If properly treated, your symptoms should resolve within 4-6 weeks.
Can a herniated disc fix itself?
Once a disc is herniated, it will not go back to its original location. However, there are many people living with bulging discs and do not even know about it. Once the acute episode is resolved and inflammation controlled, the symptoms should gradually resolve.
Do I need surgery to fix sciatica?
If sciatica is properly diagnosed and treated, surgery is rarely necessary. We recommend that patients with sciatica be evaluated and treated as soon as possible in order to prevent progression of the disease. If patients experience neurologic compromise, or if pain cannot be controlled using more conservative approaches, surgery may be needed.
Does my health insurance cover the diagnosis and treatment of sciatica?
The diagnosis and treatment of sciatica is covered by all health insurance plans.
If you are suffering from nerve pain and need help we invite you to talk with our team of talented pain management specialists at Unique Pain Medicine. If the cause of your pain is properly diagnosed, the treatment is usually successful.
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We Accept Most Insurances:
- BlueCross BlueShield
- Consolidated Health Plans
- Empire Plan (NYSHIP)
- Fidelis Care
- HIP – Emblem Health
- Meritain Health
- MetroPlus Health Plan
- Oxford Freedom
- United Healthcare