Sciatica is the pinching of the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back, through the hips and buttock, and down the leg.
Signs and symptoms
Sciatica pain can be from mild and achy to sharp and burning. It is typically one-sided pain and can worsen from sitting. Numbness, tingling or muscle weakness might be experienced in the affected leg.
Sciatica is often the result of a herniated disc, bone overgrowth (bone spur) on the vertebrae or a narrowing of the spinal column (spinal stenosis).
Diagnosis of sciatica starts with a physical exam and medical history. Other procedures and tests may be needed to diagnose sciatica, including x-rays , computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electromyogram .
There are different treatment options depending on the severity of your symptoms:
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections. These are used to inject a steroid and a local anesthetic into the space around your spine to help decrease inflammation and swelling, typically leading to improvement in pain in your neck, arms, back and legs. This procedure is performed in either the office or surgery center setting and typically takes just a few minutes. Most procedures involve a needle that is advanced to the target area using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance. A small amount of x-ray contrast will be injected to confirm accurate placement. Once the needle has been properly placed, a combination of a local anesthetic and/or injectable steroid will be placed into the targeted area.
- Minimally invasive discectomy. This surgery will remove the disc protrusion that is causing nerve compression. A small tube is placed through the muscles of the back overlying the spine, then the opening is gently enlarged. A small piece of bone is removed, allowing access to the affected nerve. The nerve is moved and the ruptured disc is removed. Because the area is small, a microscope is used during the procedure.
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