Sciatica is the term that is commonly used to describe painful symptoms that originate within compression of the sciatic nerve. This nerve, which happens to be the largest nerve in the body, travels from the low back to the feet. Its position at the base of the lumbar spine puts the sciatic nerve at risk of compression caused by degenerating lumbar discs. If you’ve experienced the symptoms of sciatic nerve compression, you know it. You also know that, when symptoms strike, you want relief as quickly as possible.
The sciatic nerve is involved in the proper movement of the lower extremities. Therefore, muscle weakness, numbness, spasms, and pain can stand in the way of daily activities and quality of life. Fortunately, many patients suffering from sciatica can find the relief they need with appropriate treatment. If you’re living with the tingling, burning, and restlessness of sciatica, you have options to relieve your pain for good. Let’s look at a few of them here.
Treatment Steps for Sciatica Relief
Like other spinal conditions, sciatica and its originating cause are usually treated with conservative, non-surgical methods first. Initially, pain may be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. This is appropriate but should be viewed as a complement to the professional spinal care of some sort. To only treat pain is to potentially overlook an opportunity to slow the progression of disc degeneration. In addition to pain-relieving medication, doctors may recommend low-impact exercise, a weight-management plan, physical therapy or chiropractic, or steroid injections.
It is usually only after conservative treatments have been performed that surgery becomes a consideration. Patients with persistent sciatica caused by spinal compression may benefit from microdiscectomy; a minimally-invasive surgical technique performed to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Microdiscectomy may be appropriate in cases of severe pain or loss of functional movement. This procedure focuses on exposing and then removing the area of a herniated disc that is pressing on the sciatic nerve. This can all be achieved through a small incision, which means minimal downtime for recovery. Patients who have undergone microdiscectomy for sciatica typically achieve immediate relief from their painful symptoms. However, a sensation of numbness may linger for several months as the nerve root regains complete health.