Four out of five adults experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives. The lower back is the most common area for this pain to occur, often as a result of compressed nerves in the region of the lumbar vertebrae. More people experience problems in the lower back than elsewhere along the spine because the lumbar region bears most of the weight of the upper body and is flexible enough to allow for a wide range of motion. Repetitive bending and twisting exacerbates the natural wear and tear of aging, making the lower back particularly prone to conditions like spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis.
What causes sciatica?
The sciatic nerve originates at the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae (L4 and L5) and extends downward through the buttocks and into the lower leg. It is the largest nerve in the human body and therefore is somewhat vulnerable to becoming impinged or irritated. If you have experienced a compressed nerve near the lumbar vertebrae, there’s a good chance it was the sciatic nerve or one of the branches leading into it. The symptoms associated with a compressed sciatic nerve are called sciatica. Anyone who has experienced the localized or traveling pain, or the tingling, numbness or leg muscle weakness associated with sciatica knows how debilitating it can be.
But it’s important to remember that sciatica itself is not a true condition; it’s merely a description of the symptoms caused by sciatic nerve compression. And what causes that compression? Any number of spinal conditions, including:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Bone spurs
- Facet disease
- Degenerative disc disease
Treatment options for lumbar nerve compression
Once your condition is diagnosed, your physician will likely prescribe a course of conservative treatment, including pain medication, physical therapy, massage or behavior modification. If chronic lower back persists despite weeks of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option to relieve the pain of a compressed nerve adjacent to the lumbar vertebrae. Rather than settle for traditional open back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using our advanced techniques can help you find relief from pain.