Sciatica is a type of radiating nerve pain that can make it difficult to go about your daily routine.
If symptoms that may include numbness and tingling sensations extending to the hips, buttocks, or legs are especially severe, you may have trouble walking, sleeping, or even sitting. If this is what you’re experiencing, you may benefit from a visit to a sciatica doctor in Los Angeles.
Finding a Source
It’s not unusual for sciatica to be caused by a spinal disc that’s damaged enough to irritate this long nerve that originates in the lower back. It’s also possible for the sciatic nerve to be affected by a vertebra that slips over the one below it (spondylolisthesis) or an overgrowth of bone (bone spurs). In rare instances, a tumor or an underlying condition like diabetes can affect the sciatic nerve.
Conducting Specialized Tests
During an initial exam, a sciatica doctor in Los Angeles may ask you to walk on your toes and make other movements to determine what triggers your symptoms. You may also be asked about when your discomfort tends to be more noticeable. An X-ray of the spine may be done to look for bone spurs and other lower back abnormalities. Specialized testing may also involve:
- An MRI or CT scan to provide a more detailed look at soft tissues and spinal bones
- A CT myelogram that’s done with the use of a contrast dye to look at spinal nerves
- An electromyography (EMG) to evaluate electrical impulses produced by nerves in response to muscle movements
Recommending a Treatment Plan
By the time you are referred to a sciatica doctor in Los Angeles, you’ve likely tried over-the-counter medications and other self-care methods without success. Once the source of your sciatic nerve pain is identified, however, you’ll be in a better position to benefit from a customized treatment plan.
If your symptoms are mild or moderate, prescription NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, or painkillers may be recommended. Tricyclic antidepressants and anti-seizure medications are sometimes helpful as well. Sciatica symptoms may also become less distracting with physical therapy options that include:
- Posture-correcting exercises
- Massage therapy
- Core strengthening exercises
- Hot and cold therapy
Some patients also notice improvements with non-surgical decompression. Another option is corticosteroid injections. The purpose of injections is to reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve enough to allow the irritated part of the nerve to heal. In some cases, surgery is necessary to remove all or part of a herniated disc or obstructions affecting the sciatic nerve, like bone spurs.
When You Should Visit a Sciatica Doctor in Los Angeles
It’s a good idea to see an L.A. doctor specializing in sciatica if you are no longer able to manage your symptoms. It’s also worth seeing this type of specialist if you’re at a point where you want to explore your options with surgery. However, receiving an accurate determination of the source of your sciatic nerve irritation may improve your response to non-surgical treatment options enough so that surgery can be avoided.
If you do respond well to treatment or pain management efforts, a sciatica doctor in Los Angeles may recommend additional steps you can take to avoid irritating your sciatic nerve again. For instance, you may be advised to adopt an exercise routine that targets the core muscle groups that provide direct or indirect support to your lower back area.