Got Sciatica? Now What?
Published in this month’s issue of the European Spine Journal is a paper by Dr. Savage entitled “The prognostic value of electrodiagnostic testing in patients with sciatica receiving physical therapy” (European Spine Journal, March 2015, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 434-443). While this is an excellent paper (trust me!), not many folks are going to surf medical journals for information on how they can find relief for their back pain. That being said let me summarize the findings of my research in an understandable way and provide some specific recommendations that will help folks suffering from “sciatica”.
Sciatica is a term commonly used to describe the symptoms experienced by those with lower back pain and symptoms that radiate into their leg such as pain, numbness, tingling, burning, etc. Often their leg symptoms are worse than their back pain! Sciatica most often results from a bulging or herniated spinal disc compressing one or more spinal nerve roots.
Patients suffering from sciatica are often referred for electrodiagnostic testing in order to determine if they have nerve damage. Electrodiagnostic testing consists of nerve conduction studies and needle EMG (electromyography). My research showed that about half of the patients with sciatica had evidence of nerve damage on EMG and about half had normal tests, which is consistent with previous studies.
KEY FINDING: The most significant finding of my research is that among patients with sciatica receiving Physical Therapy those with abnormal EMG findings (evidence of nerve damage) recovered faster and more completely than patients with normal EMGs! This surprises most people because usually a positive diagnostic test is bad news.
GOT SCIATICA? WHAT NOW? Based on the findings of my research, I recommend that individuals suffering from sciatica schedule an electrodiagnostic test to determine if they have nerve damage. Based on the results of your physical and electrodiagnostic examinations, we’ll discuss a comprehensive approach for treating your condition including spinal manipulation, joint mobilization, and specific therapeutic exercises.
WHY SUFFER? If you want to learn more about how we can treat your sciatica (or any other orthopaedic condition) schedule a FREE consultation in our South Ogden clinic to discuss how our individual, specialized care will benefit you!
Dr. Nathan J. Savage, DPT, PhD Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist
Board Certified Clinical Electrophysiologic Specialist
Total Rehab, Inc.
5957 S. Fashion Point Dr., Ste 102
South Ogden, UT 84403
Ph: (801) 827-0200
Fax: (801) 827-0201