Sciatica and radicular pain

Radicular pain is a term describing pain from nerve root compression, which can include the sciatic nerve originating the lower back. Radicular pain and other symptoms resulting from sciatic nerve compression are called sciatica and it can be a debilitating condition, taking you away from loved ones and your favorite activities.

The sciatic nerve sends sensory and motor information through the buttocks, hips, legs and feet. In addition to pain, sciatica symptoms also include a tingling sensation, muscle weakness, numbness and loss of reflex, usually on one side of the body or the other. Radicular pain is often a symptom of an underlying spine condition like degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis. These conditions are often caused by the natural aging process and don’t necessarily cause symptoms until they cause compression of either the spinal cord or one of the nerve roots as it exits the spinal column.

Radicular pain from sciatica can have the following effects:

  • Burning sensation in calves
  • Sitting or resting positions quickly become uncomfortable
  • Favoring muscles on one side of the body

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your primary health care provider. He or she can determine the cause of your pain and recommend treatment options including:

  • Application of heating pads and cold packs
  • Periods of rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes like posture correction, weight loss or quitting smoking

The goal of conservative of treatments, like the ones above, is to relieve symptoms and restore mobility and many patients are able to achieve this without having to resort to surgery.

When to consider surgery for radicular pain

Doctors and patients alike usually wait to explore surgery last because traditional open back procedures are highly invasive. To access the spine and decompress the sciatic nerve requires a large muscle-tearing incision, overnight hospitalization and a recovery period that can take months.

However, there are other options available for pain relief, including the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, resulting in an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication compared to traditional surgery.

Contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.