Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
Lower back pain can have many different causes, one of them being lumbar radiculopathy (sciatica). Sciatica is caused by a nerve root being compressed or “pinched”, and can cause pain to shoot down into the lower extremities in the distribution of the nerve. This pain is often worsened by excess movement, standing up straight or sitting down for extended periods of time. Rest and typically leaning over slightly can make the lower back pain feel better temporarily, as this takes pressure off the nerve roots in your spine. The causes of compression can range from a herniated disc in the spine to a tight muscle around the nerve, or from the spinal canal tightening over years of arthritis.
How Can It Be Treated?
Treatment starts with identifying where the nerve is being compressed. Conservative measures such as heat/ice, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications are generally first line therapy. If these conservative measures do not relieve the pain, epidural steroid injections, or injection of steroids into the involved muscle is the next step. If these treatments do not relieve the pain, a patient may be a candidate for peripheral nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, or other more invasive procedures.