Sciatic nerve pain
- Nerve Pain
- Risk Factors
Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, is a painful condition that is commonly experienced as pain and other symptoms that radiate through the buttocks, leg and foot from the lower back.
Sciatica can be caused by an injury, but it can also be traced to the development of a degenerative spine condition in the lumbar (lower) spine. The resulting sciatic nerve pain can have a seriously disruptive effect on your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love. Whether you have been diagnosed with sciatica or researching it as a potential cause of your pain, learning more about this condition can help you better work with your doctor to develop an effective treatment plan.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. Beginning in the spinal column in the lower back and ending in the feet, this vital nerve pathway is responsible for affecting many of the muscle groups in the lower body. When the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed, regular function of the nerve is interfered with, which can lead to the trademark symptoms of sciatica:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling
- Significant leg pain
- Diminished reflexes
Sciatic nerve pain is an extremely common condition in older patients because it is frequently caused by a degenerative spine condition in the lower back. Over the years, the discs that cushion the spine deteriorate, the joints that stabilize the spine become arthritic, vertebrae become misaligned and bone spurs develop in the spinal column. These conditions can cause small sections of the spine to shift out of place and possibly impact the sciatic nerve or another surrounding nerve. When this happens, sciatic nerve pain and other symptoms are experienced.
Treatments for sciatic nerve pain
Treatment of sciatic nerve pain is dependent on first identifying the source of the nerve compression — usually with medical imagery, such as a CT scan or MRI. Once your doctor has identified the cause of your sciatic nerve pain, he or she will typically try to manage the pain conservatively with a variety of nonsurgical treatments, including:
- Over-the-counter or prescription medications
- Physical therapy or low-impact exercises
- Stretching techniques
- Hot and/or cold compresses
- Periods of rest
- Epidural steroid injections
If you do not find relief through weeks or months of conservative treatment, spine surgery may become an option. Before consenting to a highly invasive open spine surgery, learn about the benefits of the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^
To treat many causes of sciatica pain, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Both types of procedures focus on removing pressure from the pinched nerve and maintaining stability within the spine. Most patients with sciatica pain can find relief through our decompression surgery, though some patients may require stabilization surgery to promote stability in the spine.