Sciatic nerve pain affects 40% of adults at least once in their lifetime. Without comprehensive treatment from Paul E. Schwaegler, MD, and Jeff Fernandez, PA, at Seattle Spine Institute, your first bout with sciatica can easily turn into a chronic, debilitating condition. The Seattle Spine Institute team has years of experience treating sciatic nerve pain with conservative therapies, turning to minimally invasive spine surgery only when needed. Don’t wait to seek help for low back pain; call the office in Seattle, Washington, or request an appointment online today.
Five nerves leave both sides of your spinal cord near the base of your spine, coming together to form the left and right sciatic nerves. These large sciatic nerves run through your buttocks and down the back of each leg to your feet.
Sciatic nerve pain refers to the discomfort you feel when one or both sciatic nerves become injured or pinched in the lower spine.
Though sciatica refers to a painful sciatic nerve, the term also has a broader meaning. Sciatica may include pain caused by any of the other nerves leaving your spinal cord in your lumbar spine (lower back).
These other lumbar nerves also travel down your legs, providing sensation and controlling muscle movement in areas that aren’t innervated by the sciatic nerves.
Sciatic nerve pain typically occurs when a problem in your spine pinches the nerve. The most common causes include:
Though not common, the nerve can get pinched by muscles as it passes through your buttocks. That condition is called piriformis syndrome.
Sciatica is known for its hallmark symptom: low back pain that suddenly shoots down one leg. You may also have tingling or burning sensations radiating down the same leg.
If you have long-term or severe nerve damage, you may lose sensation and experience leg numbness instead of pain.
The Seattle Spine Institute team begins your treatment with the most appropriate conservative therapies. You may need medication to reduce inflammation and relax your muscles.
Most patients get relief from physical therapy that helps them gently stretch and strengthen their lower back. Your provider may also recommend epidural steroid injections to reduce nerve inflammation or other interventional options, such as nerve blocks.
If conservative treatments don’t provide enough pain relief, your provider may recommend minimally invasive spine surgery. They may perform a procedure to decompress the nerve or a discectomy to repair the disc.
During a discectomy, they remove part or all of a herniated disc. When they take out the entire disc, they restore stability with a bone fusion or artificial disc replacement.
If you struggle with lower back and radiating leg pain, call Seattle Spine Institute or book an appointment online today.