Sciatica Q & A
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition that develops when the sciatic nerve in your back comes under pressure, usually because of a herniated disc. Even slight pressure on a spinal nerve can cause pain and affect function.
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts in the lumbar region towards the bottom of your spine, then divides into two branches, with one branch going down each leg right to your foot.
Sciatica pain is quite distinctive, as it typically causes a sharp or stabbing pain that travels from your lower back, through your hip and buttock, and down one leg, following the path of the sciatic nerve. The pain is usually worse when you move, or when you sneeze or cough.
As well as the pain, you may also experience:
Your symptoms give the team at Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC a good indication that you have sciatica, but they always carry out a thorough exam and review your medical history as well. You might also need to have an X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan.
Pins and needles
How is sciatica treated?
In many cases, sciatica heals with a combination of rest and gentle exercise. You can also use NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for the pain and inflammation and apply hot and cold compresses.
Physical therapy and following an exercise program prepared for you at Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC is far more likely to help you heal than staying immobile.
If you're finding it hard to follow your exercise program, a steroid injection can help ease your discomfort. You may also benefit from regenerative medicine techniques to aid the healing process.
Would I need surgery for sciatica?
Most patients respond well to conservative treatments, but they don't work for everyone. If after three months your sciatica isn't improving, the team at Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC can go through the surgical options with you.
Removal of part or all of the lamina to make room for the sciatic and other nerves takes place during a laminectomy. If your sciatica is due to spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, this is an effective treatment that brings relief to the majority of patients.
A foraminotomy involves removal of any bony overgrowth on the neuroforamen at the base of the spine, making more room for the sciatic nerve root to exit the spinal column.
Relieves compression that's caused by degeneration of the facet joints, the small joints that sit between each vertebra. Your surgeon may trim, undercut, or completely remove facet joints that are pressing on the sciatic nerve.
You may have one or a combination of these procedures to treat your sciatica; for example, a laminoforaminotomy combines laminectomy with foraminotomy. Your surgeon may also remove abnormal bone growth (osteophytes) or hypertrophic (overgrown) ligaments.
If sciatica is affecting you, call Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC today or book an appointment online.