Can’t Stand That Leg Pain?
Is standing up becoming more and more difficult every day? Is leg pain sharp, unbearable, and affecting the quality of life? These issues could be a sign of sciatica. Sciatica affects 10% of persons with low back pain yearly. In some cases, surgery is an effective measure to eliminate leg pain.
Sciatica is the symptom
The sciatic nerve is a combination of nerves that passes through the sacrum and down each leg. With sciatica, the nerve is pinched or damaged. Pain starts at the lower back and flows down the leg. If a doctor diagnoses sciatica, there are deeper forces at play. Sciatica is a symptom and side effect of one or more spinal conditions. These are spinal-related, like herniated discs, disc inflammation, or muscle inflammation. Other conditions include spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis.
Non-surgical treatment options
So how do doctors treat sciatica? First, the doctor must find out the root cause of leg pain. Using x-rays, MRIs, or other tools, doctors can determine which condition is responsible. From there, a range of non-surgical treatments can relieve the pain. Physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication are simple first steps. Some patients may need stronger prescription medication or steroid injections. Almost all cases of sciatica can be resolved without surgery. Rest, time, and medication can work wonders. However, there are severe cases that need surgical intervention.
Turning to surgery
If initial treatment fails, surgery is a viable option. Both doctor and patient must discuss the possibility of operation and the benefits. In most cases, the surgeon will correct the issue with the spine, which should, in turn, improve the leg pain. The surgeon may perform a discectomy. A portion of an intervertebral disc gets removed to give the sciatic nerve some much-needed breathing room. In some cases, the doctor may need to perform a laminectomy. Removing part of the lamina and surrounding tissue removes unwanted pressure on the spine.
Does surgery help or hurt?
Surgery is not to be taken lightly. The doctor will exhaust all non-surgical options first. For persons with a laminectomy, research suggests an up to 90% successful recovery rate. By removing the pressure, surgery can significantly reduce leg pain. Most persons experience relief for several years after the operation. Studies show persons with discectomies have an 84% success rate.
A hopeful last resort
The symptoms of sciatica can be painful. With help from a doctor, most sciatica pain can be managed and goes away within a few months. However, there are severe cases that require surgery. History shows that surgery can help with leg pain and the added issues linked to sciatica. Speak with a doctor today for help with lower leg and sciatic pain.