Managing your sciatica

Patients with persistent sciatica must receive careful and correct diagnosis of the cause for effective treatment. There are a wide variety of causes and treatments of sciatica. Treatment must be tailored to the individual for successful and timely treatment.

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’s branches change over its course. Commonly, the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed in the lower back as it exits the vertebral foramina. This causes nerve injury and neuropathic pain, tingling, weakness or numbness to travel along the entire nerve.

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, which persists or worsens after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, should be surgically decompressed.

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 buttocks and thus the sciatic nerve by a poorly fitting seat for example

In order to diagnose the source of your sciatica, your physician 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 physician will formulate a treatment plan. 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.

Laser Spine Institute

In the event that conservative, non-surgical treatment does not provide the relief desired, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our innovative, minimally invasive spine procedures. Unlike traditional open spine surgery, our procedures are conducted on an outpatient basis and require minimal rehabilitation.§ Call today to request more information about sciatica treatments and how we can help you find meaningful relief from back pain.