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Sciatica, also called lumbar radiculopathy or sciatic neuritis, refers to pain that radiates throughout the sciatic nerve; the sciatic nerve extends from your lower back down to your legs. This condition typically only affects one side of the body, such as the left upper leg, buttocks, hip, and lower back. The following is a review of the sciatica treatment options available for people whose condition does not improve on its own.
What are the sciatica treatment options?
Neuroscientists can offer both non-surgical and surgical sciatica. Non-surgical solutions are preferable when the condition is not as chronic or severe, but surgery may be necessary depending upon the severity of the symptoms and the cause.
Medication may help alleviate sciatica pain and other symptoms. The most common types of sciatica medications a neuroscientist may recommend include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Steroid injections
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, are safe, over-the-counter solutions for alleviating general pain and swelling. For more severe pain caused by sciatica, opioids or steroid injections may be recommended. Depending on the cause, muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants may be an option for sciatica treatment as well.
Physical therapy is often combined with medication, especially after the medication proves effective in alleviating the discomfort of the sciatic nerve. The purposes of physical therapy are to reduce discomfort even further and reduce the risk of future concerns of sciatica. This may involve improving mobility, correcting posture, and strengthening muscles.
A microdiscectomy is a surgical form of sciatica treatment. Surgery is generally only recommended if medication and therapy are not effective unless the patient specifically requests a surgical option instead of a non-surgical option.
Microdiscectomy, in particular, is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of a vertebral disc that is causing sciatica pain and other symptoms. This is used when the patient is diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc that is contributing to the sciatic nerve discomfort.
Sciatica is sometimes caused by a slip in the vertebrae, known as spondylolisthesis. Lumbar stabilization involves surgically placing a lumbar stabilization device between the spinous process of the damaged vertebrae. This properly aligns the vertebrae and ensures the optimal stability, which can alleviate severe sciatica discomfort and other concerning symptoms.
A foraminotomy treats an obstruction in the foramen, which consists of tunnels that the nerve passes through on each side of the vertebrae. This can cause symptoms such as pain and numbness of the sciatic nerve. A foraminotomy is a surgical procedure that removes the obstruction. The obstruction could be a variety of things, including a bone spur or tissue.
During a lumbar laminectomy, a portion of the lamina is removed to reduce pressure on the sciatica nerve root. This is most often used for patients whose sciatica symptoms are caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, particularly when the spinal canal is narrowed and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The surgery involves decompression to alleviate the sciatica symptoms.
Other surgical options
Other surgical options that may be available for sciatica treatment include but are not limited to a laminoplasty, laminotomy, and a hemilaminectomy. Of course, the best option depends upon the cause of the sciatica discomfort.
How the best sciatica treatment option is determined by neuroscientists
The sciatica treatment process begins with a consultation visit with a neuroscientist, who can assess the symptoms you are having and determine what all sciatica treatments may be an effective option to consider. The most common causes of sciatica are:
- Piriformis syndrome
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
There are also other contributing factors, such as obesity and pregnancy that may increase a person’s risk of sciatica. The neuroscientist may utilize several diagnostic tests to determine the cause, such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and EMGs.
They may also discuss the symptoms the patient is having in detail, along with previous treatments they have tried. Once they have a clear indication of what issue is most likely causing the symptoms, then they can explain all available sciatica treatment options and help the patient make an informed choice as to which plan is best.
Are you dealing with the symptoms of sciatica?
If you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica, then contact our neuroscience team today. We can assess your symptoms and help put together a treatment plan that works for you. No one should have to struggle with sciatica symptoms each day, and we offer a range of sciatica treatment options that may help alleviate your symptoms long-term.
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