OrthoNeuroSpine & Pain Institute
Sciatica is a layman's term for a pinched nerve that can cause pain that runs from the buttocks down the back of the leg. The sciatic nerve is about an inch or so long in the buttocks made of multiple spinal nerves. When people commonly refer to sciatica it is not necessarily a problem of the sciatic nerve, it's a problem of the nerve when it is being pinched as it exits from the spine from a herniated disc or a bone spur.
General symptoms of radicular pain include:
- Calves that feel like they're on fire
- Difficulty finding comfortable sitting or resting positions
- Favoring muscles on one side of the body
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider. He or shecan determine the cause of your suffering and recommend treatment options including:
- Application of hot and cold packs
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy
In some cases, patients may not respond to rehabilitation. Fortunately, there are other options available for pain relief, including the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures performed here. With a quicker recuperation period than other treatments like open-back surgery, you may return to a fully-functioning lifestyle in no time!
Description of Sciatica
- Sciatica is a general term that describes the collection of symptoms that can arise when the sciatic nerve - which runs from the base of the spine and down through both legs - is compressed. Compression of the sciatic nerve can lead to pain that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttocks, legs, and feet. In addition to pain, other symptoms like cramping, muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness may follow the course of the sciatic nerve. More often than not, sciatica occurs on one side of the body, but it can affect both sides
- The largest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve is about an inch wide and is comprised of multiple spinal nerves. Sciatica arises when this nerve is being pinched - either by a herniated disc or a bone spur in the area where the nerve exits the spinal column in the lower back.
- Most treatments for sciatica are nonsurgical and may include rest, special exercises, physical therapy, and medication. Typically, however, these conservative treatments only provide temporary relief, leading some patients to explore surgery as an option. Today, sciatica can be healed through safe and effective endoscopic procedures, making traditional, massively invasive, open back surgeries unnecessary
Causes of Sciatica
- Sciatica is a form of peripheral neuropathy (nerve dysfunction). It occurs when there is damage to the sciatic nerve, which controls the muscles in the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot.
- Sciatica is primarily caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc (also referred to as a bulging disc, ruptured disc, slipped disc, etc.) or a bone spur. The problem is often diagnosed as "radiculopathy," meaning that disc or bone tissue is protruding from its normal position in the vertebral column and is putting pressure on the radicular nerve (nerve root).
- Other causes of sciatica can include injury (such as fractures of the pelvis or trauma to the buttocks or thigh), prolonged external pressure on the nerve, and pressure on the nerve from nearby bodily structures. It can also be caused by entrapment - pressure on the nerve where it travels through a passageway (or foramen) to exit the spinal column. This compression slows or prevents the passage of impulses along the nerve.
- Diseases that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, can damage many different nerves, including the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve also may be harmed by pressure from a tumor, abscess, or other mass, or by bleeding in the pelvis.
- Symptoms of sciatica include sensation changes, numbness, tingling, burning, and pain in the buttocks, down the back of the legs, and/or into the sole of the foot. Sciatica can also cause weakness in the legs, knees, and feet, and in severe cases can cause a loss of mobility. In many cases, sciatica affects just the right or left side of the body, but it can affect both.
Treatment of Sciatica
- Traditionally, the only surgical option for correcting sciatica was open back surgery. Minimally invasive, outpatient procedures as an alternative. Our safe, effective procedures can address the causes of sciatica and leave the patient free of the painful, debilitating symptoms. Our procedures - called a Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy, a Foraminotomy, or a Laminotomy - are for people with a herniated disc, bulging disc, or bone spur that is pressing against the sciatic nerve and causing the symptoms of sciatica. By removing or shrinking the herniated disc or bulging disc with the laser, we can decompress the nerve. After excess disc and bone material are removed, the symptoms of sciatica generally disappear.
- Once the procedure is complete, the patient (with a companion) is free to go after 1 - 2 hours of monitoring. We generally encourage patients to take a long walk the afternoon or evening of their procedure. The patient then returns the following day for a post-operative visit to get clearance from the doctor to return home.