Sciatic nerve surgery is generally a last resort for treating sciatica, the painful condition created by compression of the sciatic nerve. Before recommending sciatica surgery, a physician will likely prescribe a host of other non-invasive treatments. These treatments can include stretching, exercises, physical therapy, spinal decompression, hot and cold compresses and more. Some health care providers may also recommend alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage. If none of these treatments have worked, physicians will sometimes suggest epidural steroid injections, which eliminate sciatica pain temporarily. From there, the only real option remaining is sciatic nerve surgery. This can come in the form of several different procedures, depending on the cause of the sciatica.
These procedures include:
- Discectomy: this is the removal of disc material that is pressing on the sciatic nerve.
- Foraminotomy: a procedure used to remove excess tissue in the opening of the spinal canal where the sciatic nerve exits, also known as the foramen.
- Laminotomy: the removal of a portion of the lamina – a thin bone plate that protects the nerves exiting a vertebra.
All of these sciatica surgery options can be highly invasive and can come with a variety of side effects and risks, including infection, development of excess scar tissue and more. However, when these procedures are performed using minimally invasive methods as they are at Laser Spine Institute, the risks and side effects are lessened, allowing for shorter recovery times in most cases.