Sciatica is a set of symptoms that can develop as a result of the compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, originating in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine and extending through the legs and into the feet. Along the way, this nerve sends sensory and motor signals to several muscle groups and is critical to the functioning of the lower body. When this nerve is interfered with, the body can respond with localized pain and radiating symptoms that can require treatment from a primary care doctor or specialist.
At Laser Spine Institute we treat many patients with sciatica and understand how this condition can invade every corner of your life, making it hard to get out of bed and prepare breakfast, get through a day of work or take your dog for a walk. We are also committed to patient education, and hope the following information gives you a better chance of getting the lasting relief you deserve.
Degenerative spine and sciatica
Sciatica can be caused by degenerative spine conditions that often accompany the natural aging process. As we grow older, the parts that support the spine and allow for movement gradually deteriorate as a result of years of wear and tear.
These degenerative changes can result in the compression of spinal nerves that are densely packed into the spinal column. When a condition, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur, constricts the sciatic nerve, sciatica can develop. The symptoms associated with this condition can vary widely depending on the exact location and cause of the nerve compression. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Burning or electric pain that shoots through the buttocks, hips and legs
- Muscle weakness, cramping and spasms in the legs
- Joint disorder in the hips or knees
- A feeling of numbness or tingling in the feet
If you experience any loss of bowel or bladder control or any paralysis, seek emergency medical attention immediately, as it could be caused by cauda equina syndrome, which can potentially be a life-threatening condition.
Treatment for sciatica
For many, pain can be sufficiently managed with a conservative treatment plan consisting of nonsurgical techniques. Your doctor may suggest medication, periods of rest, using ice packs and heating pads and performing low-impact exercises. Some patients may be advised to quit smoking or lose excess weight, if necessary. In the event that conservative treatment fails to relieve your sciatica symptoms and you are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our caring and dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can help you learn about the numerous advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery for the treatment of sciatica.
We’ll be happy to review a recent copy of your MRI or CT scan* to help you find out if you may be a candidate for a procedure at one of our state-of-the-art outpatient surgery centers.