How to manage your sciatica

The sciatic nerve is a long and important nerve that begins in the lower back, branches through groves in the buttocks, extends down the back of each leg, makes its way to the ankles and ends in the feet. The name of the sciatic nerve’s branches changes over its course. Commonly, the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed in the lower back as it exits the vertebral foramina.

As a result, this causes symptoms such as nerve injury, neuropathic pain, tingling, weakness in the legs or numbness to travel along the entire nerve. Patients with persistent sciatica must receive a careful and correct diagnosis of the cause for effective treatment, which must be tailored to the individual in order to be successful. Read on to learn about the wide variety of causes and treatments available for sciatica.

Possible causes of sciatica

Causes of sciatica include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Traumatic injury
  • Disease or infection
  • Bone spurs (osteophytes)
  • Overuse
  • Poor posture
  • External forces pushing on the sciatic nerve

In order to diagnose the source of your sciatica, your doctor likely will review your medical history, complete a physical and frequently will request a CT scan or MRI. Once the cause of discomfort has been determined, your doctor will formulate a treatment regimen. It is important to remember that surgery should always be reserved as an option after all conservative treatments are exhausted. Patients should never feel pressured to consent to a procedure about which they are uncomfortable.

Sciatica treatment options

Left untreated, sciatic pain is severe and can profoundly affect an individual’s quality of life. However, most nerve compression, including the compression of the sciatic nerve, can more often than not be treated with a course of conservative treatments, including physical therapy, pain medication and heat therapy. Only sciatica that persists or worsens after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, should be surgically decompressed.

In the event that conservative treatment does not provide the relief desired, surgery may be an option, such as the minimally invasive spine procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Unlike traditional open spine surgery, our procedures are conducted on an outpatient basis and offer a shorter recovery period.^ Contact us today to request more information about sciatica treatments and how we can help you find meaningful relief from back pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Our surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate symptoms associated with sciatica. To find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a no-cost MRI review.* We can help get you back to the activities you love.