Pain Management

Herniated Disc / Slipped Disc / Sciatica

A disc herniation describes a disc that has protruded past its usual borders and often presses against and inflamed spinal nerve root causing pain or ‘sciatica’. There are substances within the disc which can create inflammation around the nerve which results in pain down the arm or leg.

How is a Herniated Disc Treated?

Treatment may include treating patients with NSAID’s, epidural steroid injections, Lumbosacral back support and physical therapy.

Radiculitis, is pain that "radiates" along the path of a nerve which can happen because of irritation and inflammation along the nerve root nerve. One of the most common types of radiculitis is sciatica. Sciatic describes pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve from the lower spine down to the calf and foot.

What Causes Low Back and Leg Pain?

There are many causes of low back and leg pain, including sciatica. Sciatica occurs as a result of nerve irritation. The pain often feels like an electric like or throbbing sensation that shoots down the leg. This pain may worsen when you cough or sneeze. There also may be a feeling of numbness in your feet and toes. Sudden difficulty controlling your bladder or your bowels may signify a serious condition involving your spine and may require surgical intervention. Lumbar spinal stenosis is another cause of low back and leg pain. Surgery may be helpful in severe cases, particularly in relieving the leg pain. There are times when pain may continue even several years after spine surgery in a syndrome called ‘post laminectomy syndrome’. Post laminectomy syndrome often presents as back and leg pain. The pain specialists at the Emory Center for Pain Management use minimally invasive techniques to target the pain and treat it at its source.

How Can We Help?

There are many options that the specialists at the Emory Center for Pain Management offer for the treatment of low back and leg pain. The most important first step is diagnosis of the pain generator (where the pain is coming from). In addition to a thorough physical exam, we perform a full evaluation of your imaging (e.g., X-rays or MRI) and other testing to help us determine the precise origin of your pain. We use targeted diagnostic nerve blocks (e.g., selective nerve root blocks or medial branch injections) to identify and treat the pain at its source. If you are getting a diagnostic injection it is important to carefully record your results on the pain diary and bring that diary to your next office visit. Our specialists also work closely with physical therapists to maximize your relief and provide comprehensive treatment. Note that if you have significant weakness or difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels you should get evaluated for possible surgery.

What are Non Surgical Ways to Treat Radiculitis/Sciatica?

  • Non narcotic analgesic medications that calm sciatic pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Selective nerve root injections
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Spinal cord stimulation (post laminectomy syndrome)