Sciatica pain — surgical treatment options to relieve pain

Sciatica is a term used to describe the pain and symptoms that result from the compression of the sciatic nerve — the long nerve travels from the lower back to the feet. When this nerve is compressed, symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness that affects the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet on one or both sides of the body occur, also known as sciatica pain.

If you have been diagnosed with sciatica and you have not found any pain relief from months of conservative treatment, you may be recommended to undergo surgery to treat your condition. Before you decide whether or not surgery is right for you, we encourage you to research all of the available surgery options and make an informed decision about your health care. You may qualify for several safer, more effective procedures as an alternative to traditional open back surgery to treat your sciatica pain. If you have any questions during your research, contact our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute for more information about the process and recovery time for each available procedure.

Types of procedures

A sciatica procedure is typically performed in one of two ways: traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery. While both of these surgical methods aim to relieve pressure on a compressed sciatic nerve, the steps during the procedure are vastly different. Understanding these different approaches is crucial in order for you to make an informed decision about which type of procedure is your best option. Take a moment to review the differences of each procedure:

Traditional open back surgery

This type of surgery is categorized as highly invasive because the surgeon is required to make a large incision (4 -6 inches) that cuts through the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the spine. Once the surgeon has accessed the problem area of the spine, he or she may need to remove large portions of bone, discs, ligaments and other components of the spine in order to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. If large portions of the spine are removed, spinal fusion (permanently fusing two vertebrae together with bone grafts and implants) may also be required to restore proper spinal support.

Unfortunately, traditional open back surgery often comes with high risks. The highly invasive techniques used during this procedure increase a patient’s risk of infection and excessive blood loss during surgery. The recovery time for traditional open back surgery is extended due to the large incision that cuts through the muscles around the spine. Those muscles help stabilize the spine and support the body’s weight and mobility. A patient must, unnecessarily, wait for those muscles to rebuild before he or she can return to daily activities.

Minimally invasive spine surgery offers patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery that has a patient satisfaction score of 96 and a shorter recovery time than traditional open back surgery.^

The reason our team of surgeons earns such incredible results from over 75,000 surgeries is that our minimally invasive techniques allow the surgeons to access the spine through a small incision of about 1-inch in length. The muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine are spared and left undisturbed. The surgeon may need to remove just a small portion of the damaged disc or vertebra or the entire disc or vertebra in order to release pressure from the sciatic nerve. This is called minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery, respectively. If minimally invasive stabilization surgery is performed, the surgeon will insert a small implant in the spine where the damaged disc or vertebra was removed; this will help to stabilize and support the spine.

As you continue to research your treatment options of sciatica surgery, please contact our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute with any questions. Our goal is to help you find answers so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.

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