Don’t Ignore That Leg Pain
Sciatica is caused by pressure or irritation to the sciatic nerve. This irritation usually comes from an issue with the spine. The spine is made up of several bones called vertebrae. In between each vertebra are discs that act as shock absorbers. Due to wear and tear or injury, these discs can bulge and press on nearby nerves. The sciatic nerves start at the lower spine and run down each side of the butt, legs, and feet. If a damaged disc rests on one of the sciatic nerves, a person can get mild to severe sciatic pain. Research estimates about 40% of people will get some form of sciatic pain.
The symptoms of sciatica
Persons with sciatica first experience lower back pain. This pain then moves to the buttocks then legs. Leg pain is the most glaring sign of sciatica. Other symptoms include hip pain, tingling, and numbness. In severe cases, the foot feels weaker and causes pain when moving. Sciatica patients also have difficulty sitting or standing for long periods.
Try these sciatica treatment steps
Leg pain can prevent sciatica sufferers from moving around comfortably. There are a few treatments that can help, dependent on the degree of pain. Using over-the-counter painkillers is the first step in pain management. Hot and cold therapy, using ice packs or compression packs can provide a 40% reduction in pain. Other treatments include physical therapy and steroid injections. While all these treatments can reduce leg pain, there are occasions where the pain persists. At this point, the doctor must look deeper and consider surgery to reduce the pain.
Removing the source of the problem
Sciatica is not a stand-alone condition. The pain is a signal that something is wrong with the spine. Once a doctor performs an x-ray or MRI, chances are some damage will be uncovered. Depending on the extent of the damage, the surgeon can suggest the right surgical procedure to stop leg pain. For herniated discs, the surgeon can perform a minimally invasive discectomy. The surgeon will remove part of the herniated disc that is irritating the sciatic nerve. The procedure has a high success rate and is effective in reducing pain. Even several years after the operation, 80% of patients are satisfied with the results.
Some much-needed breathing room
In some cases, the disc is not herniated, but the patient has spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. A smaller canal can press on the sciatic nerve, causing leg pain. To address this, the surgeon can perform a laminectomy. The laminae are a pair of bones that make up the posterior wall of the vertebra. The surgeon removes some or all of the lamina. This frees up space and relieves pressure on the sciatic nerve. Laminectomy has an 85% satisfaction rate among patients.
Surgery may be the answer you’re looking for
While there are several non-surgical treatment options, few provide long-term relief like surgery. A medical professional must assess the leg pain and find the root of the spinal issue. If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful, the surgeon will turn to minimally invasive surgery. Most patients report decreased pain and a better quality of life after surgery. Speak with a doctor about available surgical options today.