Sciatica pain and radiculopathy

Sciatica is a type of radiculopathy that results from compression of the sciatic nerve. This large nerve, which runs from the lower back into each leg, controls much of the muscle function of the lower body. A problem with the sciatic nerve, therefore, can lead to symptoms being experienced in the lower body. Radiculopathy is a term describing symptoms resulting from compression of a nerve root as it branches off from the spinal cord.

Radiculopathy resulting from a compressed sciatic nerve root can be a crippling condition that is very disruptive to normal activity. Even once-simple tasks like gardening or going to the grocery store can become too difficult to accomplish without assistance. If you are suffering from sciatica, or symptoms you think could be sciatica-related, learning more about this condition can potentially help you work better with your doctor to develop a more effective care plan.

Causes and symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica pain is often caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine. The spinal discs are pads made out of cartilage and other materials that absorb shock, allowing the vertebrae to bend and flex. However, these discs can be the source of sciatica pain if displaced disc material narrows the spinal column and interferes with the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can also be caused by arthritic bone spurs, foraminal stenosis, traumatic injury, or in more rare cases, the presence of a tumor.

Symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Low back pain may or may not be experienced
  • Shooting pain into the hips, buttocks, leg and foot
  • Numbness and tingling
  • The presence of a burning sensation, or the feeling of pins and needles
  • Sudden muscle weakness

Treating sciatica pain effectively depends on effectively diagnosing the source of the problem. In some cases, it is possible for radiculopathic symptoms to resolve over time and by following a doctor-recommended course of exercise, physical therapy, pain medication and hot and cold compresses. However, if these and other conservative treatment options are exhausted without enough improvement in symptoms to return to normal activity, doctors may begin to present surgery as an option.

Laser Spine Institute

Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck or back pain since 2005. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. By using a less than 1-inch incision and other muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine and decompress nerves, patients can experience a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication compared to traditional surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.