Sciatic nerve pain

Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, is a painful condition that is most commonly recognized 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 more often than not, this condition can be traced to the development of a degenerative spine condition in the lumbar spine in the lower back. When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed in the spinal column, the regular function of the nerve, sending sensory information from the brain to the lower back and extremities, is interfered with and sciatic nerve pain is experienced.

Sciatica

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 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

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 carefully planned low-impact exercises
  • Stretching techniques
  • Hot or cold compresses
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Limited rest

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, you should research the benefits of the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures are safer and effective than 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.

To find out if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan. Find out why we are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery.