Is a Nerve Block the Best Choice of Treatment for My Sciatica?

Is a Nerve Block the Best Choice of Treatment for My Sciatica?

Sciatica pain is usually hard to ignore. It shoots down the lower back, causing a radiating pain that can stop you in your tracks. If you’re plagued with sciatica pain, getting relief is key to restoring your quality of life.

Stuart Hough, MD, and Ramani Peruvemba, MD, and our team here at Pain Management Specialists in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, are experts in treating sciatica. We’re dedicated to helping patients lead as pain-free a life as possible.

In this blog, we explain what sciatica is, what nerve blocks are, and how they’re given.

What is sciatica?

You have two sciatic nerves, one on the right side of your body and one on the left. Each sciatic nerve travels down the lower spine, then into the pelvis, then down each leg.

Sciatica occurs when something compresses or irritates either of the nerves. The result is usually pain and abnormal sensations, such as tingling and numbness. Sciatica pain is different from other types of back pain in that it radiates down the leg of the affected nerve.

Understanding the approach to treating sciatica

Because the underlying issue is that something is compressing the sciatic nerve, the treatment will depend on the source of the irritation. However, the following therapies are often prescribed to people with sciatica.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is often the initial treatment for sciatica. Specific therapeutic stretching exercises may be able to relieve inflammation and increase strength and flexibility as your body heals.

Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and oral steroids are often used along with physical therapy to quell sciatica inflammation and ease the pain. 

Epidural steroid injections

If physical therapy and medication don’t relieve your pain, physicians often try epidural steroid injections. This involves injecting steroid medication into the epidural space, which is the area that nerve roots travel through. These injections can help calm inflammation in irritated nerve roots.

Nerve blocks

If the treatments above don’t provide relief, your provider may recommend a nerve root block. A nerve root block injection uses both a steroid and a local anesthetic. This treatment differs from epidural steroid injections in that a nerve root block targets a single nerve root rather than the epidural space.

Nerve blocks are used to both diagnose and treat the source of pain. If a nerve block injection relieves the pain, this confirms that the targeted nerve is the one that’s affected. 

To perform the procedure, your provider uses X-ray or CT guidance to inject the medication around the nerve. The medication then disrupts the pain signals to reduce or eliminate the pain. The medication also helps reduce or eliminate the inflammation.

To learn more about nerve blocks and to see if one could help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Pain Management Specialists today.

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