Living In NYC With Low Back Pain? It Could Be Sciatica
New York City dwellers, young and old are no strangers to long work days and commutes. Couple a job at the computer with the constant pounding of the pavement and bam, you've got the recipe for back pain. If you're experiencing pain down the back of your legs or shooting pains that make standing difficult, you could even be experiencing sciatica. Let's take a closer look at how sciatica can develop and what you can do to discover real relief.
One Patient's Sciatica Story
Janis is a graphic designer during the day and amateur cyclist on the weekends. During the day she spends eight hours at her desk with few breaks throughout. Her work station was not ergonomically correct making her shift into unusal sitting positions throughout the day. She began noticing low back pain that she described as mild for about six months. Recently on the weekends following long cycling rides, Janis noticed one of her legs would almost give out without warning, caused by a sharp pain sensation running down the back of her legs from her buttocks.
When Janis first went to see her doctor she was diagnosed her with sciatica. She was told to rest at home and take tylenol. After several days with little relief from this suggestion, Janis returned to the doctor who decided to prescribe oral steroids. When the oral steroids were not agreeing with her, Janis was referred to a pain management specialist for more precise treatment. The pain management specialist gave Janis a series of epidural injections that seemed to provide relief for about six months. It was just about time for Janis to go back for another epidural injection when she saw on the Dr. Oz show that they are not FDA approved and can cause death or paralysis.
Desperate now that her pain had turned from mild to off the charts, she made an appointment for back surgery. Before the date of surgery a friend bought Janis a massage for her birthday. The massage therapist explained that the nerve pain is what causes sciatica and that a combination of acupuncture and massage may be able to help her avoid surgery. The massage therapist explained that the sciatic nerve travels down to the lower leg and foot and down the back of the thigh. This explains why when it's compressed, pain is experienced in this region.
Rather than perform surgery, the use of massage and acupuncture can reduce this tightening, freeing sciatic nerve compression. After several sessions of massage therapy Janis' pain had significantly decreased. She was able to avoid surgery as well as eventually return to cycling without pain. The massage therapist also prescribed stretches to help her move around from her desk throughout the day.
Are You Experiencing Sciatica?
Because the sciatic nerve begins in the bottom of the sacrum, the triangular bone just above the buttocks, when those associated muscles become tightened such as the piriformis and glutes, they can compress the sciatic nerve causing pain and discomfort. The sciatic nerve can also become compressed when vertebrae become misaligned- this results in disc herniation where the improperly positioned disc applies pressure to the nerve, causing pain. If you experience pain down the back of your legs, pain predominantly along one side of the buttocks, potential burning, numbness and tingling, pain that makes standing difficult, low back pain or discomfort or your legs give out while you walk, you may be experiencing pain due to sciatic nerve compression.As you can see from our patient's experience, comprehensive diagnosis is essential to ensure that relief is long lasting and treatment addresses the underlying causes rather than simply treating the symptoms of sciatica. Once the cause is determined, the most ideal, non-invasive treatment plan can be developed to help you become pain free.