Sciatica symptoms and treatment
When it comes to sciatica symptoms and treatment, no two patients are identical. Sciatica describes a broad set of symptoms that can occur when the sciatic nerve – the body’s longest and largest nerve that runs from the lower spine to the feet – is compressed or irritated, often by nearby components of the spine. Sciatica symptoms and subsequent treatment will vary according to the severity of the disruption to the sciatic nerve, the patient’s lifestyle and other factors.
While symptoms can range greatly, many sciatica patients experience sharp pain at the site of the nerve compression and radiating pain throughout the lower body, as well as muscle weakness, tingling sensations and numbness. These symptoms can interfere with the patient’s ability to perform everyday motions, like walking, bending and even sitting.
The large majority of patients are able to find relief from sciatic pain with conservative, non-surgical treatments. These may include:
- Physical therapy
- Heat and ice therapy
- Pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications
- Routine stretching and gentle exercise
If conservative treatments fail to provide relief from sciatic pain, surgery may be recommended to alleviate pressure placed on the nerve. Minimally invasive procedures, such as those performed at Laser Spine Institute, require only a small incision. Unlike traditional open spine surgery, our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis.
Causes of sciatica
The natural aging process is most often to blame for sciatica. As we age, the components of the spine begin to degenerate from years of bearing weight and providing the body with a full range of motion. This can prompt bulging and herniated discs, bone spurs and a variety of other spinal conditions that may eventually lead to sciatica, such as:
- Spinal osteoarthritis — the eroding of cartilage that cushions the vertebral joints
- Spinal stenosis — the narrowing of the spinal canal
- Ligament calcification — the loss of mobility and flexible strength in the spinal ligaments
- Piriformis syndrome — spasms in the muscle that facilitates hip rotation
While it is impossible to escape the effects of aging, reducing your likelihood of experiencing sciatica is quite possible. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in routine stretching and gentle exercise, avoiding strenuous motions and improving posture can help relieve pressure placed on the sciatic nerve and maintain a healthy spine.
The next steps
If you have been experiencing sciatica symptoms and want to learn of treatment options, contact
Laser Spine Institute about our minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to open spine surgery.