Recognizing a compressed sciatic nerve

A compressed sciatic nerve can be one of the most frustrating and even puzzling physical conditions you will ever experience, because the symptoms often manifest themselves in parts of the body that you would not automatically associate with a problem in the lower back. Yet, this is often the case because:

  • The sciatic nerve begins at the top of the lumbar region of the spine in the lower back.
  • It is the largest and longest nerve in the body.
  • The lower back is susceptible to a great deal of wear and tear over the years.
  • Worn and deteriorating anatomical components threaten to produce spinal instability, which can lead to a compressed sciatic nerve.

Diagnosing sciatica

The symptoms of a compressed sciatic nerve are called sciatica and include a sharp pain in the lower back; pain that radiates or “shoots” the down the buttocks and into the leg; tingling or numbness in the lower extremities, including the feet and toes; and muscle weakness in the lower extremities. If you are in your 30s or older and you go to a physician and describe these symptoms, they will almost certainly suspect you are experiencing sciatica. Range of motion tests, X-rays or other medical imaging tests and a review of you and your family’s medical history should provide more clues. In fact, an MRI or CT scan usually can reveal if a herniated disc, bulging disc or spinal bone spur is the culprit, at which point your physician can suggest a course of treatment.

Treating a compressed sciatic nerve

Treatment for sciatica often begins with conservative methods, such as exercise and stretching to improve strength and flexibility, pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs, hot/cold applications and occasional periods of rest. However, if these and other conservative methods prove ineffective in treating your pain and symptoms after several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons have perfected a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient decompression and stabilization procedures that can relieve the effects of sciatic nerve compression related to a degenerative spine condition. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients to date regain their quality of life from chronic back pain and symptoms. Contact us today to learn more and submit your MRI or CT for review.