Sciatica overview

Sciatica is a symptom of a lumbar spine (lower back) condition that compresses the sciatic nerve, which extends from your spinal cord to your feet. When a spine condition, such as a bulging or herniated disc, compresses the sciatic nerve in the spine, pain can radiate from the lower back down to the feet. Patients with sciatic pain often describe a burning sensation in the buttock, leg, and/or hip on the impacted side of the body.

If you are experiencing sciatic pain, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause of your nerve compression. He or she might order an MRI test for you to determine the source of your pain and help decide the best treatment plan for your needs. If left untreated, sciatica can become debilitating and result in a decreased quality of life.

For more information about the causes and symptoms of sciatica, please take a moment to research our articles on sciatica. We believe that every patient should be given quality information about each spine condition so the patient can make an informed decision about treatment. If you have any questions during your research, we encourage you to contact our dedicated team for more information.

Common causes of sciatica

Because sciatica is a symptom of sciatic nerve compression in the lower back, there could be several causes of this pain. The two most common spine conditions that cause sciatica are a bulging and herniated disc.

In addition, other causes of sciatica may include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Pelvic injury or fracture
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Sciatic nerve tumor
  • Spinal tumors

An MRI report will accurately show the cause of your sciatic pain and will help your doctor determine the best course of treatment for you. Depending on the severity of your condition, you might be recommended to begin with conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or stretching exercises, or to undergo surgical treatment.

Conservative treatment for sciatica pain

Many patients will begin to treat sciatica pain with conservative therapies. Conservative treatments include any type of treatment that is not surgery and range from pain medication to low-impact exercise. The most common forms of conservative treatment for sciatica pain include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Weight management
  • Pain medication
  • Steroid epidurals

Most mild cases of sciatica will respond well to conservative therapies. However, if you have tried conservative treatment for several weeks or months and have found no lasting relief, it might be time to consider a surgical treatment option.

Surgical treatment for sciatica pain

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer two types of minimally invasive surgery to treat sciatica — minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our minimally invasive procedures offer patients a safer and effective surgical alternative to traditional open back surgery with a lower risk of complication.^

During our minimally invasive decompression surgery, a portion of the bone or disc impacting the sciatic nerve would be removed through a less than 1-inch incision in the lower back. The procedure would not impact any surrounding muscles, allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ than patients who undergo traditional open back surgery.

For patients with severe spine conditions causing sciatica pain, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery may be necessary to help treat your condition. During our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the entire disc or bone that is impacting the sciatic nerve is removed through a small incision in the back. An implant is inserted in the now-empty space in the spine to offer immediate stabilization.

Each of our surgeries at Laser Spine Institute is performed as an outpatient procedure. Due to the minimally invasive nature of our procedures, most patients are up and walking within hours after surgery.^ We also have a patient satisfaction score of 96 out of 100 and a patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Reach out to us today so we can help schedule your free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures. Our team can help you move to the next step on your wellness journey.

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