If you have ever suffered from sciatica, you know that it is a different type of pain than normal leg and back pain. For many, the pain of sciatica can be excruciating and prevent them from participating in daily life. While mild pain may be managed at home, most people suffer enough from sciatic pain that they seek medical treatment. But what kind of doctor should you visit? Sciatic pain affects your back and legs, but is actually caused by nerve issues. When you look for clinics in Marietta, GA, it is important to look for a spine specialist who can treat all aspects of sciatica.
What Is Sciatica?
The condition is caused when the sciatic nerve, which spans the lower back down the back of the legs and the feet, becomes injured or inflamed. In rare cases, this can be the result of serious conditions like spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerve. Benign and cancerous tumors in the spine and nerve damage as a result of other conditions are also occasional causes. Most often, there is a less serious catalyst for sciatic pain.
A herniated or bulging disc, in which the discs that usually provide cushion between vertebrae slip out of place, can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause this pain. Degenerative disc disease can lead to the same results, as well as osteoarthritis. Sciatica can also become an issue due to one-off injuries, or as a result of pregnancy. In pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts and joints become more elastic, leading to sciatic pain until the baby is born or changes positions.
Sciatica is often characterized by weakness or numbness in the lower back, legs, or feet. Some people will experience dull pain while others will experience sharp pains that radiate down the nerve. Symptoms are often exacerbated by movement.
When to See a Doctor for Sciatica
In many mild cases, sciatica will resolve after a few days of simple at-home care. If you believe you might be suffering from sciatic pain, you should decrease your activity levels, particularly anything that worsens the pain. However, it is not recommended to rest completely, instead using gentle movement and stretching to relieve nerve compression. When you experience pain, using ice packs for up to 20 minutes at a time can bring relief of early symptoms, while more persistent pain may respond more fully to heat. Over the counter pain medicine may also help when needed.
But if symptoms do not improve or resolve quickly, it becomes important to visit a medical professional. After a few days of self-care methods, residual pain is an indicator that you should begin looking for clinics in Marietta, GA that offer specialty care for spinal issues.
Additionally, if you experience a complete loss of leg movement or sensation or a loss of bowel and bladder control, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Who Should I See?
For many people, sciatica can be instigated by knots in the muscles or spinal misalignments as a result of too much sitting, or too much stimulation. In these cases, chiropractors are often the first line of defense as they can evaluate the spine and perform adjustments to improve its condition. With regular adjustments and physical therapy, many people are able to reduce pain with chiropractic care.
A family care or primary care physician will often be able to recognize sciatic pain and make the proper referral, though who they send you to may differ. Because it is a nerve causing the pain, many people will seek help from a neurologist to relieve their sciatica. A neurologist will likely perform diagnostic testing using x-rays or MRIs to identify the root of the issue and develop a plan for treatment. In cases of severe or chronic sciatica, a neurologist is likely to end up managing a case due to their expertise in the nervous system.
While neurologists can manage the nerves, sciatica is sometimes caused by a more aggressive issue in the spine, like a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. In these cases, an orthopedic doctor will be able to step in and examine the spine. These doctors often determine if surgery is needed in serious cases, and if so what kind of surgery. Orthopedic doctors will seek non-invasive options first and create a treatment plan that matches the severity of your condition.
All Spinal Specialists in One Place
At AICA Marietta, we offer a network of practitioners dedicated to your spinal health. With neurologists, chiropractors, and orthopedic doctors on staff, we are able to manage sciatic pain no matter the form it takes or treatment needed. When you visit our clinics in Marietta, GA, you benefit from a range of spinal specialties that treat your pain holistically. Call us today to begin seeking relief from sciatic pain.