Considering sciatica surgery

While conservative treatment is often effective for managing sciatica, surgery is occasionally warranted for some sciatica patients who require additional medical attention. Sciatica is a set of symptoms that can arise when the sciatic nerve is compressed. Sciatica treatment, therefore, is focused on alleviating the compression and thus abating the symptoms. When performing sciatica surgery, a surgeon might physically remove a source of nerve compression.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica can develop for a number of reasons ranging from the presence of a congenital defect to the natural spinal degeneration that can occur over time. Normal wear and tear and age-related degeneration of the anatomical components of the spine are the most common causes of sciatic nerve compression. The symptoms most often associated with sciatica, namely lower back pain, chronic leg pain and numbness/tingling, result from the irritation of the sciatic nerve in the lower back, or lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body and is responsible for facilitating the free flow of sensory and motor signals between the brain and the lower body. When this transfer of signals is interrupted, the body sometimes responds with pain and other symptoms.

Why surgery may be required

In most cases, when a patient is diagnosed with sciatica, a physician will develop a treatment regimen comprised of a series of non-surgical (conservative) techniques. Anti-inflammatory drugs, hot/cold therapy, deep tissue massage, stretching techniques and low-impact exercise are common approaches that can be effective for relieving sciatica when utilized over the course of several months.

Sciatica surgery is usually reserved for individuals who experience debilitating symptoms or have attempted conservative treatment options without success. In these instances, sciatic nerve decompression surgery might be recommended.

Surgical options

In general, there are two approaches to sciatica surgery: open spine and minimally invasive. When open spine surgery is performed, a large incision is required to access the affected region of the spine and the source of the sciatic nerve compression is removed. This approach frequently involves bone grafts and several months of rehabilitation. On the other hand, some patients can benefit from outpatient treatments known as minimally invasive spine procedures, which are effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.

To learn more about sciatica surgery and other treatment options, contact Laser Spine Institute today to schedule an initial consultation.

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