Causes of sciatica and the best techniques for prevention
Sciatica causes patients to experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve — which begins in the lower back and travels all the way down the lower body — becomes compressed by a misaligned or inflamed part of the spine. This compression typically occurs as a result of the natural aging process causing the spinal anatomy to deteriorate.
Causes of sciatica and prevention techniques
Sciatica causes can include a number of degenerative spinal conditions, such as:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Spondylolisthesis, or vertebral slippage
These spinal conditions commonly affect people 50 years of age or older. While the natural aging process is unavoidable, there are some things people can do to reduce their risk for developing degenerative spine conditions.
Being overweight or obese adds to the pressure being placed on the spine, while being overly sedentary can negatively affect supporting muscles that help hold the spinal column up. This is why weight management and staying active are so important for spine health. Patients should also avoid using tobacco products and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. All of these risk factors have a negative effect on the health of an individual’s spine and significantly increase the likelihood of developing sciatica.
Sciatica treatment methods
If sciatica does develop despite taking preventive steps, there are still many effective treatments. Conservative methods, such as over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections are often able to provide patients with lasting relief. It is also important to stay committed to the healthy life choices listed above, such as weight management and practicing good posture. However, not every patient will respond to these conservative treatments the same.
If several weeks or months of conservative treatments prove ineffective, surgery can become an option. In this situation patients may want to consider the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate surgical first choice and provides many advantages versus traditional open neck or back surgery, including a smaller incision, lower infection rate and a faster recovery time.^
Contact us to learn more and to receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.