Sciatica is a type of pain that typically occurs when a disk in your lower spine herniates and places pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can result in chronic pain or discomfort in the lower back, hips, legs, feet, or toes. Our doctors in Cedar Park, Lakeway, and Austin, TX, offer a variety of sciatica treatment options, including surgery when methods such as physical therapy or steroid injections do not relieve symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is a common problem. While patients may complain of similar symptoms, not everyone suffers from sciatica in the same way. Some report uncomfortable tingling and numbness. Others describe a burning or radiating pain that curtails many day-to-day activities. Some also suffer from bowel or bladder incontinence. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a medical professional immediately.
What Causes Sciatica?
There are several conditions that can lead to sciatica. Some of these include:
We will first try to resolve issues using nonsurgical treatment.
Patients may believe they have sciatica based on their symptoms. However, a thorough examination is necessary to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Typically, tests are required to confirm the diagnosis, such as:
- An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- A CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan
- An EMG (electro myelogram)
Non-surgical Treatment Options
In many cases, pain from sciatica can be alleviated with a combination of:
- Physical therapy
- Supervised exercises can strengthen core muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Massage therapy
- Massage can alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Gentle skeletal manipulations can sometimes provide pain relief.
- Some patients find acupuncture effective for reducing or eliminating discomfort.
Doctors may also prescribe medications ranging from analgesics and steroids to muscle relaxers. Occasionally, spinal injections may be recommended. When these fail to solve the problem, doctors may propose surgery, particularly if the patient has suffered serious leg pain for a month or more, or is losing bowel and bladder control.
Our doctors will only recommend surgery if noninvasive treatments fail to provide relief. A primary factor to consider is the severity of sciatic pain and its impact on daily life. Dr. Robert Josey and Dr. Michael Mogimi will work with you to determine the most appropriate treatment option for your needs. When addressing sciatica, the two most common surgical treatments include:
- During this procedure, all or part of a herniated disk is removed. A discectomy can alleviate the pain caused by the pressure of the disk on the sciatic nerve.
- The spinal cord and canal are protected by a bony plate called the lamina. During a laminectomy, a portion of the lamina is removed to create adequate space for the nerves.
Advancements in technology allow for more conservative and effective treatment. We provide minimally invasive surgery using smaller incisions and requiring a shorter recovery time.
If you are experiencing sciatica symptoms, we are here to help. Contact Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin online or call (512) 476-2830 to schedule your private consultation.