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Sciatica symptom and treatment information provided for prospective patients by Laser Spine Institute in Cincinnati

Before looking into treatments that offer sciatica relief, it helps to understand the conditions that lead to sciatica pain themselves. Sciatica is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms associated with the sciatic nerve root compression. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body, running from the lower spine and down through both legs. When this nerve becomes pinched or compressed, patients can experience a range of debilitating symptoms. This pain is often referred to as sciatic nerve pain, or, simply, sciatica.

Sciatica causes

Sciatica is most often caused by a degenerative spine condition, which develops as a result of the natural aging process. As aging occurs, the parts of the spine begin to break down, often accounting for the aches and pains that many people associate with getting older. When the spine degenerates, it becomes more prone to damage, which can occur in the form of a number of conditions like:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Bone spurs
  • Osteoarthritis

Any of the conditions mentioned above can lead to the compression of the sciatic nerve when it occurs in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine.

Sciatica diagnosis

Most people with sciatica receive their diagnosis from their primary care physician, who likely used a combination of the following methods:

  • Discussion. Many physicians will ask their patient to describe the symptoms in detail, as well as his or her medical history.
  • Examination. A physical exam of a patient suspected of having sciatica might consist of tests to measure the patient’s range of motion or reflexes.
  • Diagnostic tests. An MRI or CT scan can provide a clear view of the patient’s sciatic nerve to determine whether or not nerve compression is causing the pain.

Sciatica symptoms

Sciatica generally occurs on one side of the body, but it can affect both sides, leaving patients in chronic pain. Sciatic nerve pain can be experienced as multiple symptoms, which may include:

  • Radiating pain into feet and legs
  • Burning
  • Cramping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

Sciatica treatment

Your physician will be able to prescribe a plan of treatment for your sciatica based on your lifestyle, severity of pain and overall health. While the treatment may vary slightly from person to person, commonly recommended forms of conservative sciatica treatment include:

  • Medication
  • Heat/cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Corticosteroid injections

While conservative treatment for sciatica aims to relieve the symptoms associated with this condition, alternative methods of treatment help to promote the body’s natural healing process. Alternative methods of treatment that have been reported successful in treating sciatica include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Chiropractic care
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Herbal supplements

You should always consult your doctor before beginning or changing any method of treatment.

Surgery for sciatica

Surgery can become a serious option if weeks or months of conservative treatment do no relieve symptoms enough for a good quality of life. Choosing the correct procedure and surgeon is important in ultimately finding the right treatment for your sciatica-related pain. Laser Spine Institute’s Cincinnati center offers minimally invasive spine surgery that is designed to relieve sciatica pain at its source. These procedures include:

  • Foraminotomy. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform a foraminotomy to relieve the symptoms of nerve root compression, caused by bone, disc or other material that is narrowing one of the foramina, or nerve-root exits, in the spinal column.
  • Laminotomy. Minimally invasive laminotomy is a technique that involves the removal of a small part of the vertebral bones that protect the spinal canal, called the lamina.
  • Discectomy. A discectomy is the surgical removal of displaced disc material that is putting pressure on spinal nerves.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). This minimally invasive stabilization procedure is an alternative to a traditional fusion and involves the removal of a damaged disc and the insertion of a bone graft to provide stability.

If you are suffering from sciatica, do not wait to find the relief you deserve. Our minimally invasive procedures provide a streamlined outpatient experience that eliminates hospital-associated costs and allows you to get back to your life faster.^ We have helped more than 75,000 patients with their neck and back pain since 2005.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive a no-cost review of your most recent MRI or CT scan* to see if you may be a candidate for one of these procedures at our Cincinnati center.