What is a sciatic nerve block?

Sciatic nerve pain can be diagnosed and treated through a method called sciatic nerve block.

A sciatic nerve block is an injection of medication directly to the nerve, designed to block the pain signal being sent to the brain by a compressed sciatic nerve root. The sciatic nerve can experience compression due to degenerative spine conditions, such as a herniated disc or a bulging disc. A compressed sciatic nerve can cause pain, tingling, numbness and weakness, collectively referred to as sciatica.

About the sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It begins as several nerves in the lumbar (lower) spine and then leaves the spinal cord through an opening in the sacral spine called the sciatic foramen. The nerve pathway then travels down through the buttocks, hips, legs, feet and toes, giving sensation to all of these areas. Because of this, a pinched sciatic nerve can cause pain and symptoms that radiate from the lower back and all the way down to the foot, depending on the severity of the nerve compression.

What is in a sciatic nerve block?

A sciatic nerve block has diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Not only can it eliminate pain, but it can also help physicians to pinpoint the origin of pain through trial and error. A nerve block is injected into the area that is believed to be causing symptoms, and can include the following:

  • Numbing agent — substances like lidocaine or bupivacaine that numb the injection site and surrounding tissue
  • Steroids — anti-inflammatory substances like cortisone or triamcinolone that can reduce swollen tissue that could be compressing the sciatic nerve
  • Opioids — substances that suppress the opioid receptors in the central nervous system such as oxycodone and morphine

If the nerve block offers immediate relief from the pain and symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve, the physician will diagnose the exact location of the sciatic pain, which will help when determining the best course of treatment for your condition.

Seeking treatment for sciatica

Upon diagnosis of the condition that is the underlying cause of sciatica, most doctors will begin with a course of conservative treatments like rest, medication and physical therapy. Spine surgery may become an option if weeks or months of these and other treatments don’t bring the relief required for a good quality of life.

If you are in this situation, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery at our state-of-the-art outpatient centers. These procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period.^

Find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures by asking for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*

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