Sciatica can be very uncomfortable, causing pain and burning in your legs, buttocks, and hips. At Failed Back Institute in Weatherford, Granbury & Midland, Texas, Scott Smith, MD is a leading spinal specialist who treats complex spinal disorders, like sciatica. Using up-to-date methods for treatment, including advanced surgical techniques, Dr. Smith offers personalized treatment plans and renews your hope for relief of your sciatic nerve pain. For a consultation, call or request an appointment online.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica, sometimes called lumbar radiculopathy, describes the pain that results when the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in your body, is compressed or pinched. The sciatic nerve runs from the low back on both sides of your spine, extends down through the buttocks, hips, and legs, and into your feet.  It’s responsible for sending nerve signals to the lower half of your body, creating sensation and mobility.

Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than the problem itself. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or pinched, it causes an interruption in the nerve signals, creating pain and weakness along the length of the nerve. This can come from a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or other spinal disorders.

What are symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatica can vary in intensity and quality, depending on the location and degree of sciatic nerve compression. Sciatica is usually present on only one side, but it may involve both lower extremities.

Sciatica may involve a combination of symptoms, such as:

  • Pain extending from your low back to the buttock or leg
  • Burning down the back of your thigh to the lower leg or foot
  • Increased pain with standing or sitting
  • Lessened pain with walking or lying down
  • Numbness, tingling, or prickling down your leg
  • Weakness in your leg or foot
  • Sharp or shooting pain down your leg
  • Increased symptoms when standing up from sitting

You may have mild back pain with sciatica, but it’s usually less painful than your other symptoms. Your symptoms may be more intense with sudden movements, or when changing position.

How is sciatica treated?

Usually, treatment for sciatica begins with a conservative approach. Interventions may include steroids taken orally or by injection, physical therapy, massage therapy, or spinal manipulation.

When this treatment isn’t sufficient, and your pain has lasted for at least 4-6 weeks, surgical intervention may be needed. Surgical options are determined by the underlying cause of sciatica, and may include:

  • Microdiscectomy: A procedure to remove a portion of a herniated disc that may be compressing the sciatic nerve
  • Laminectomy: A procedure to remove bony prominences caused by spinal stenosis
  • Spinal fusion: A procedure to fuse discs that are unstable or degenerated

Dr. Smith is highly skilled and experienced at repairing and restoring the underlying spinal conditions that may be causing your sciatica.

For a consultation and to discuss treatment options for your sciatic pain, call or request an appointment online with Dr. Smith.