What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is less common than other causes and conditions that produce back pain. For instance, sporting activities, recreational activities, and heavy labor can cause back and leg pain, which is commonly misdiagnosed as sciatica. The challenge for a physician is to distinguish between radicular pain, which is caused by an inflamed nerve root, and referred pain, which is a result of a musculoskeletal sprain or strain.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica?
However, in the case of longstanding history of sciatica, the pain may gradually become localized to the buttocks and back of the leg. In this situation, the patient may have a vague aching pain that does not reach all the way to the lower leg or foot, though it may have done so earlier in the course of the disease.
Often there is not a specific traumatic event or motion associated with the onset of sciatica. Standing, sitting, heavy lifting, sneezing, or having a bowel movement may aggravate the pain. Lying down is usually the most comfortable position. Occasionally paresthesias, weakness and diminished bowel or bladder function will accompany sciatica, but these are rare symptoms.
How Is Sciatica Diagnosed?
How Is Sciatica Treated?
However, if these therapies fail to provide lasting relief over the reasonable length of time, or if there is evidence that nerve root compression is causing nerve damage, your doctor may recommend spine surgery. The goal of surgery is alleviate your symptoms and prevent further damage by removing the source of pressure on the spinal nerve roots.
Spinal surgeons perform a variety of procedures to achieve spinal decompression. When determining the optimal surgical procedure, a surgeon will consider patient pathology (the structural and functional changes that led to the patient’s neurological dysfunction), the level or levels of the spine affected, the patient’s medical history and his or her surgical experience and training.
Today, spinal decompression also can be performed using a minimally invasive technique that allows your spine surgeon to dilate the muscles surrounding your spine rather than stripping the muscles away from the spine.
The benefits of spine surgery, however, must be weighed against the risks. Your surgeon will be able to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with you, and the likely results of operative versus non-operative treatment.
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