Causes, symptoms and treatment for sciatic nerve pain

Sciatica is a common condition — becoming more common with age — that can cause significant pain throughout the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs. This condition is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. Sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating and life-altering, making you miss days of work, nights of sleep and time with loved ones.

If sciatica is disrupting your life, it’s important to keep a positive attitude and remember that it is possible to get treatment for a return to normal activity. Learning more about the causes and the full range of treatment options for sciatic nerve compression is a positive first step in this direction.

Causes and symptoms of sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the longest, widest nerve in the body and provides sensory and motor information to much of the lower body. Beginning in the lumbar spine, this nerve branches out into the hips and travels down both legs all the way to the feet.

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, which can interfere with the regular function of the nerve and cause shooting pains, tingling, numbness and weakness to develop. Nerve compression happens in the lower back because the lumbar spine supports so much weight while remaining flexible enough for movement. Years of pressure, natural aging and injury can lead to conditions that displace spinal anatomy and can compress nerves like the sciatic. These conditions include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bulging and herniated discs
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Facet disease
  • Spinal bone spurs

Treatment options

There are a number of effective sciatica treatments available to patients who have been diagnosed. Your doctor can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that accounts for your overall health, age, current medications and previously attempted treatments. Anti-inflammatories, the application of heat or ice, physical therapy, stretching exercises, a healthy diet and limited rest are all examples of commonly recommended treatments.

For patients who do not experience pain relief after exhausting conservative treatments, spine surgery might be recommended. If you consider undergoing a traditional open spine procedure to relieve your sciatic pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and offer less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back surgery.

Reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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