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Not Your Grandma's Sciatica: September 12, 2012

Sciatica - almost everyone over age 65 is familiar with it, some on a personal basis.

“It starts in your back and then it goes down over into your hip and then into your leg, back of your knee,” says Marie Read, a sciatica sufferer.

“I got to the point where I could hardly walk.  The pain was excruciating,” says Jerry Castaldo, a sciatica sufferer.

“It’s a shooting pain,” says Marie.

“Sciatica is the layman’s tern for pain which travels down the leg. Sciatica is caused by nerve compression and that compression or it can also be caused by a disk herniation,” says Dr. Christopher Dawson, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Sciatica is a common complaint and has been for years.

“It seems that a lot of my patients have heard about their relatives’ sciatica years before, and now they themselves are experiencing it,” says Dr. Dawson.

What sets sciatica apart from the days when your grandma got it is treatment. Nowadays there are many ways to relieve the pain.

“Conservative measures are first and foremost.  Those include physical therapy.  Also, medical management, sometimes a course of corticosteroids by mouth and also injection therapies are of great benefit for these patients,” says Dr. Dawson.

Injection therapies are quite literally sticking it to the pain.

“These therapies include selective nerve root blocks or a lumbar epidural steroid injection aimed at bathing the exiting nerve root with corticosteroid and local anesthetic,” says Dr. Dawson.

Castaldo chose medical intervention.

“In and out, one day, and that was the end of it,” says Castaldo.

Read went with therapy.

“I’m much better than I was,” says Read.

For both of them, seeking medical treatment took the sting out of sciatica.