Sciatica — what is it and how is it treated?

Sciatica is a group of painful symptoms, and if it’s affecting your life, you know how disruptive it can be. This condition usually occurs if the sciatic nerve — the longest in the body — becomes pinched in the lower back. In most cases, the pinching is caused by a degenerative spine condition, such as a herniated disc.

The lumbar (lower) spine has to be strong enough to support the weight of the upper body while still being flexible enough to bend and flex. Daily wear combined with the natural aging process is a major contributor to the conditions that cause sciatic nerve compression. Living with Sciatica can affect your relationships, job and favorite activities, whether that means gardening or golf, but treatment that offers lasting relief is possible. Learning more about this condition offers you a better chance of getting the help you need to return to an active lifestyle.

Symptoms

Sciatica is characterized by radiating symptoms that travel into the lower body. The symptoms will generally affect one side of the body or the other, but it is possible to have symptoms on both sides. Common symptoms described by patients with sciatica include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning Pain

These symptoms are almost always felt in the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and haven’t yet been diagnosed with sciatica, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Treatments

Many patients find effective relief for their sciatica symptoms with conservative, nonsurgical treatments like pain medication, hot and cold compresses or physical therapy. Alternative treatments — yoga, acupuncture, deep tissue massage — have also started to become more popular with many patients and doctors. Always work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that best fits your individual needs.

In the event that several weeks or months of these conservative methods do not relieve your sciatica symptoms, a physician may recommend surgery. Before consenting to traditional open spine surgery, which typically involves long recovery times and an increased risk of infection, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and offers our patients a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of infection compared to traditional open spine procedures performed in a hospital.

Contact us for a no-cost review of your MRI report or CT scan* to see if you may be a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

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