Lower back pain and leg pain may be symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the lower back and extremities caused by the compression of the large sciatic nerve that begins in the lumbar (lower) spine.

A compressed sciatic nerve is often a result of a degenerative spine condition in the lumbar spine. This nerve compression can result in chronic lower back pain that can have a severe negative impact on quality of life. Because the sciatic nerve extends into the lower back and legs, compression of this nerve can cause symptoms to be felt as far away from the spine as the toes.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of sciatica so you can be prepared to discuss your pain with your doctor. Once he or she diagnoses the underlying cause, you can begin collaborating to find an effective treatment option for pain relief.

Symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica is a classic example of referred pain from a compressed nerve root, also called radiculitis, which means the pain of an affected area is experienced in a different part of the body. Sciatica symptoms may include:

  • Tingling in the thighs or the backs of the legs
  • Muscle spasms or cramping in the calves
  • Loss of feeling in the feet or toes
  • Pain that radiates from the lower back down through the buttocks

This pain can sometimes seem separate from the spine altogether. For example, a patient with sciatica pain may experience tingling in the feet or legs without pain in the lower back. For this reason, sciatica is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Treatment of sciatica

Conservative treatments like rest, medication, hot and/or cold therapy, exercise and physical therapy are often effective and help many people resume a normal and comfortable activity level. Surgery can become an option for people dealing with chronic low back pain and sciatica symptoms who have fully explored symptoms without finding relief. For people in this situation, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help.

We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that relieves pressure on compressed nerve roots, including the sciatic nerve. Because we use a muscle-sparing approach to the spine that avoids the disruption of surrounding muscles, our spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and no lengthy recovery.^

Patients with sciatica pain may benefit from a minimally invasive decompression surgery, which frees the sciatic nerve by removing a small piece of a damaged disc or bone spur that is pressing against it. We also perform minimally invasive stabilization procedures that are our outpatient approach to spinal fusion surgery. For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.