Dr. Cathy Kim, MD:
Expert Sciatica Doctor & Specialist
Dr. Cathy Kim, MD, is an Integrative and Functional Medicine doctor based in Camarillo, CA. As a family physician, she always had a passion for educating her patients – from parenting and nutrition to dental hygiene and self-care. Now, Dr. Cathy Kim combines her years of observing bodies across the lifespan into a root-cause approach that combines functional medicine’s nutritional focus with the latest fascia research.
Dr. Cathy Kim’s unique approach has set her apart in the medical and holistic community, often achieving results where surgery, procedures, manual therapies, and supplements have failed.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain that follows the path of the sciatic nerve. This nerve originates in the lower back, passing through the hips and buttocks, and extends down each leg. The primary cause of sciatica is the pressure exerted on a part of the nerve, typically due to a herniated disk or bone overgrowth. This pressure results in inflammation, leading to pain and often numbness in the affected leg. While the pain can be severe, most cases of sciatica are treatable and resolve within a few weeks. However, in cases where there’s significant leg weakness or changes in bowel or bladder function, surgical intervention might be necessary.
Types of Sciatica
Sciatica is a term used to describe nerve pain in the leg caused by irritation and/or compression of a sciatic nerve root. The specific cause of this compression or irritation can vary, leading to different types of sciatica. Here’s a breakdown:
Acute & Chronic Health Conditions
The most prevalent cause of sciatica, this type arises when a disk in the spine herniates. This herniation exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to inflammation, pain, and potential numbness in the leg. Herniated discs are the most common cause of sciatica, and the pain typically originates in the lower back, radiating deep into the buttock and traveling down the leg
Bone Overgrowth-Induced Sciatica
Also known as bone spurs, these overgrowths on the spinal bones can compress the sciatic nerve. The pressure from these overgrowths can lead to the characteristic symptoms of sciatica, including pain and numbness.
Although rare, tumors growing in or near the lower spine can exert pressure on the sciatic nerve. This pressure causes the typical pain and inflammation associated with sciatica. It's essential to diagnose and treat this cause early to prevent further complications.
Some diseases, notably diabetes, can damage nerves, leading to sciatica symptoms. The damage to the nerve can result in pain, numbness, and other sciatica symptoms.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is a prevalent condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back down the back of each leg. The primary symptom of sciatica is pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down one leg, sometimes reaching as far as the foot. This pain can vary in intensity, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation, and can even feel like an electric shock. Other common symptoms include:
- Lower back pain.
- Pain in the rear or leg that intensifies when sitting.
- Hip pain.
- Burning or tingling sensations down the leg.
- Weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
- Constant pain on one side of the rear.
- A sharp pain that makes standing difficult.
It’s essential to note that sciatica typically affects only one side of the lower body. The pain can worsen with actions like coughing or sneezing. While some people may experience infrequent and irritating pain, for others, it can be severe and disabling.
Causes of Sciatica
The primary cause of sciatica is the irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine. This irritation can arise from various factors:
- Herniated Disk: The most common cause of sciatic pain, it occurs when a disk in the spine herniates, exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: This involves the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back.
- Degenerative Disk Disease: This refers to the breakdown of disks that act as cushions between the vertebrae.
- Spondylolisthesis: A condition where one vertebra slips forward over another.
- Pregnancy: The physiological changes during pregnancy can lead to sciatica.
- Muscle Spasm: Spasms in the back or buttocks can cause sciatica.
Other Factors: Being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, sleeping on an unsuitable mattress, smoking, and certain jobs that involve prolonged sitting, driving, or heavy lifting can increase the risk of developing sciatica.
Importance of Seeking Professional Help
Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain that radiates from the lower back down the leg due to irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. While many cases of sciatica can improve with self-treatment, it’s crucial to recognize when professional medical intervention is necessary. Ignoring severe symptoms or waiting too long to seek treatment can lead to chronic pain, muscle weakness, and even permanent nerve damage
Dr. Cathy Kim's Approach to Sciatica Treatment
Dr. Cathy Kim’s expertise lies in understanding the complex mechanics of the body, and how our modern movement patterns promote the development of dense and stiffened fascia – “muscles have movement memory, but fascia holds the form.” Through her skilled assessments, Dr. Cathy Kim identifies imbalances and explains how they contribute to the sciatica symptoms. Whatever the cause that is visible on MRI imaging, her philosophy is that pain and/or dysfunction is the body’s way of signaling that the current lifestyle path is not compatible with longterm health.
Personalized Treatment Plans:Dr. Kim begins with a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. Often, she is able to relate past symptoms or conditions to the sciatica. She makes sure to understand individual circumstances to keep her homework advice practical and effective. She may perform targeted myofascial release to accelerate the body’s adjustment to better alignment.
Education and Empowerment:Dr. Kim believes in empowering her patients with knowledge. She teaches them how to interpret any warning symptoms and the skills to relieve or prevent exacerbations.
Dr. Cathy Kim: Your Partner in Sciatica Treatment
With Dr. Cathy Kim’s guidance, patients learn to alter their daily habitual movements, which helps preserve elasticity in the body tissues and improve sciatica and overall vitality. Rather than living smaller with every passing year, patients find that Dr. Cathy Kim’s informed, lifespan perspective helps them stay active and engaged in the work, family, and self-care activities that make life rewarding and meaningful.
Let’s talk about your health
Here are options for getting started with Dr. Cathy Kim