Sciatica refers to the pain that affects the sciatica nerve, the longest nerve in the body.
If you suffer from sciatica, mild to severe pain is experienced anywhere along the sciatic nerve path. The pain can also cause muscle weakness in the leg and foot, unpleasant tingling pins and needles, and sensation in the leg, foot, and toes.
Surgery for sciatica is one of the treatment options, but needs to be only considered when your pain and/or weakness is persistent even after non surgical methods of treatment.
But how does one know if they need surgery. In this blog, we discuss some important points about Sciatica and signs and symptoms that should be considered for surgery.
What does Sciatica pain feel like?
Sciatica pain depends on its cause and can be described in different ways. Some people experience the pain as sharp jolts of pain or as shooting pain. Others describe the sciatica pain to be electric, burning, or stabbing.
For some people, the pain may come and go, and for others, it may be constant. The pain is more severe in the leg than in the lower back. Long periods of standing or sitting can make the pain worse. A sudden movement of the body, like a sneeze or cough, can also lead to worsening of the pain.
What are the main symptoms of sciatica?
The symptoms of sciatica include:
- Weakness or numbness in your buttock, lower back, leg or feet
- Lower back pain radiating or spreading down your buttock and back of one of the thighs
- Pins and needles feelings in your feet, legs or toes
What are the risk factors for sciatica?
You are at greater risk of sciatica if you:
Are Obese: The more weight you have, the more back muscles have to work and strain and this can lead to pains, back strains and other back issues
Not having a strong core: The stronger the muscles of your abdomen and back, the more support you will get for your lower back.
Have a physical job that involves heavy lifting: If you are in a job that involves heavy lifting, it may lead to low back problems. This is very true when good biomechanics are not applied for lifting weigbhts.Jobs that involve prolonged sitting may also increase your risk of low back problems.
You have diabetes or have osteoarthritis: Having diabetes can always increase your chance of nerve damage and that can increase your chance of suffering from sciatica. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, it can cause damage to your spine and also put your nerves at the risk of injury.
Have a sedentary lifestyle: If you are used to sitting for an extended period and are not used to moving around or are not keeping your muscles moving, flexible and toned, it can increase your chance of sciatica.
How to know when you need surgery for sciatica pain relief
As per Dr. Surya Prakash Rao “Sciatica surgery delivers quicker relief from incapacitating symptoms, if caused by and acutue massive disc rupture. If long-term nonsurgical treatment does not result inimproved symptoms, surgery should be considered.Mirolumbar decompression helps patients typically recover faster from their enhanced function and enjoyment of life.
Most patients who suffer from sciatica can be treated with nonsurgical treatments that include medications and epidural spinal injection. Hence spine surgery is not required to treat low back and leg pain that is not caused by the nerve compression. But there may be situations where you may need spine surgery:-
You have bladder dysfunction – This is very rare but may occur with spinal cord compression.
You may be suffering from spinal stenosis and your doctor may recommend a surgery to treat it and find relief.
Your symptoms with sciatic nerve may become severe or non-surgical treatment is no longer effective.
You may need the surgery if sciatic pain has become more challenging or has worsened or the pain has increased neurologic problem such as paralysis or weakness.
There are various types of surgical procedures that are used in spine surgery and your surgeon will suggest the best procedure to treat the cause of sciatica.
If you are suffering from sciatica pain and have questions regarding the pain and the treatment, seek an appointment with Dr. Surya Prakash right away to find out how to get it treated. Dr. Surya Prakash has more than two decades of experience as a spine specialist and is one of the best spine surgeons in Hyderabad.