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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

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Sciatica

For sciatica pain relief, turn to Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). We offer the full range of sciatica treatment, from chiropractic services to spine surgery to repair a herniated disk. We provide comprehensive, expert care so you can get back to your active life.

Sciatica pain can make it difficult to move through your day. At LVHN, you’ll find care customized to your needs. Conservative treatments such as medication may provide sciatica relief, or the pain may be severe enough to require surgery. We are able to treat each patient based on their symptoms.

We use the latest diagnostic techniques to locate the source of the pain and then work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. Our team continues to monitor you to monitor your progress and determine if we need to adjust your treatment.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is also known as lumbar radiculopathy. The pain originates along the sciatic nerve, which extends from the back of the pelvis down the thigh. The sciatic nerve is the main nerve of the leg and the largest nerve in the body.

Though doctors don’t always know what causes sciatica, some causes include:

  • Spinal stenosis, a herniated disk in the spine that presses on the sciatic nerve
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Tumor or abscess
  • Blood clot
  • Awkward sitting position
  • Nerve disorders

Why choose LVHN for sciatica treatment?

When you come to LVHN, you will find:

  • Expert diagnosis: Sciatica symptoms can resemble symptoms of other health conditions, making it challenging to get an accurate diagnosis. We use the latest diagnostic technology to find the source of the pain and develop an effective treatment plan.
  • Full range of treatments: We offer many options for sciatica relief. Our advanced spine specialists discuss your options with you and determine the best way to move forward, considering your symptoms, lifestyle, preferences and overall health.
  • Expert follow-up care: We typically start with conservative treatments, such as chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, physiatry and pain management. We closely monitor your response to determine if they are working or if we need to consider other treatments, such as surgery.     

Sciatica symptoms

Common symptoms of sciatica include: 

  • Sharp, shooting pain that runs from the buttock down the leg
  • Pain that ranges from mild tingling or ache to severe pain
  • Pain that is worse at night
  • Pain that worsens with long stretches of standing or sitting
  • Lower back pain
  • Numbness and weakness, in severe cases

Sciatica diagnosis 

We begin the diagnosis with a medical history and physical examination. Other diagnostic tests may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A large magnet and radio waves produce detailed images of the body.
  • X-ray: An X-ray provides detailed pictures of internal tissues, bones and organs.
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS): We conduct these two procedures together to record and analyze your muscle’s electrical impulses. We place thin needles in the muscle to record electrical activity (EMG). Then we place electrodes in different locations on the skin along the nerve pathway (NCS). We stimulate the nerve in various places to determine the site of the injury.

Sciatica treatment

After confirming a diagnosis, we discuss your treatment options with you. Nonsurgical treatment methods include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
  • Heat or cold applications to the sore muscles
  • Movement, to keep your body in motion to reduce inflammation
  • Chiropractic medicine, where trained practitioners manipulate the body to provide pain relief and release tight muscles

If these methods do not provide sufficient relief, you may be a candidate for surgery. Typically, the surgery is to repair a herniated disk that is causing the pain. Learn more about herniated disk surgery.

Physical therapy

Our inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation specialists develop a customized plan to help relieve back pain and other symptoms. Our goal is to help you return to your daily activities as quickly as possible.

Learn more about physical therapy options.