Where is the sciatic nerve located in the body?
The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and travels down through the hips, legs and feet. It starts as spinal nerves in the lower (lumbar) spine. After exiting the spine through foramina — openings between the vertebrae — a group of nerve fibers all merge into a single nerve on each side of the body directly in front of the piriformis muscle —one of the main muscles connecting the pelvis to the upper leg. This nerve, which is called the sciatic nerve, extends down through the lower extremities.
Sometimes, the sciatic nerve — or one of its nerve roots in the lumbar spine — can become compressed as a result of spinal degeneration or a traumatic injury. This can cause a group of symptoms known as sciatica. Sciatic nerve pain usually extends down the path of the nerve, with noticeable discomfort appearing in the hips, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet. Muscle weakness, numbness and tingling in these areas can occur as well.
Conservative sciatica treatment
Depending on what is causing a person’s sciatic nerve pain, it may be possible to address his or her sciatica symptoms with conservative, nonsurgical treatments. For instance, over-the-counter medications can help alleviate pain and inflammation, while stretching exercises can help improve muscle strength and range of motion. Other conservative treatment options include hot/cold compresses, physical therapy and weight loss, if applicable.
Surgical sciatica treatment
Conservative therapies often provide significant symptom relief, but their effects are temporary. Unlike nonsurgical treatments, surgery can actually address the cause of the patient’s sciatica – such as a herniated disc or bone spur that is pressing against a root of the sciatic nerve. Sometimes, open spine surgery is needed to achieve this, but there are minimally invasive alternatives, such as the outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute.
At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ can help address a variety of spinal conditions using procedures that require a less-than-1-inch incision. This translates to less scarring, a shorter recovery time^ and a lower infection risk when compared to traditional, open spine operations. And, our surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation, having completed more than 60,000 minimally invasive neck and back procedures.
To find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive, outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*