Sciatica causes, symptoms and treatment

Sciatica is a common condition in middle-aged patients that can cause significant pain throughout the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs. This degenerative spine condition typically develops gradually over time and is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve within the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. Treatment for sciatica is typically first attempted conservatively, with a series of noninvasive techniques that are designed to alleviate pain and decompress the nerve.

The sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve is the longest, widest nerve in the body and is responsible for stimulating a number of muscles and muscle groups throughout the lower body. Beginning in the lumbar region of the spine (in the lower back), the nerve travels through the buttocks, thighs and calves, and culminates in the feet near the toes.

Nerve compression

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed (restricted due to pressure), and this condition can interfere with the regular function of the nerve and cause pain-related symptoms to develop. Nerve compression is quite common in the lower back because the lumbar spine bears the burden of supporting much of the body’s weight and is also extremely flexible. Over the years, degenerative spine conditions can develop in the region and may lead to sciatica. Some of the most common causes of neural compression and related sciatica include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Facet disease
  • The presence of bone spurs
  • Traumatic injury

Treatment options

There are a number of effective sciatica treatments available to patients who experience chronic pain. In most instances, a physician will work with the patient to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that accounts for the patient’s overall health, age, current medications, previously attempted treatments and the cause of the individual’s sciatica. Anti-inflammatories, the application of heat or ice, physical therapy, stretching exercises, healthy diet and limited rest are all examples of commonly recommended treatments.

For patients who fail to experience pain relief from noninvasive sciatica treatment, decompression surgery may be recommended. If you are considering undergoing an open spine operation to alleviate your sciatic pain, contact Laser Spine Institute and learn how one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures may be able to provide you with the relief you desire. Our innovative procedures provide many advantages over traditional open spine surgery and have already helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. Contact us to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

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