Sciatica may begin as a bothersome ache or pain in your lower back, but it can quickly become the kind of debilitating pain that radiates down one of your legs, reaching as far as your calf. It occurs when something either compresses or impinges upon your sciatic nerve where it’s rooted to your spine.
Some of the most common causes of sciatic nerve impingement and pain include:
When an intervertebral disc bulges or ruptures, it can put pressure on your sciatic nerve.
A narrowing of the spinal canal, which sometimes comes with age, can push on your sciatic nerve.
Spinal compression or misalignment
Having lower-back vertebrae that are even slightly compressed or out of alignment can crowd the sciatic nerve root.
When the piriformis muscle, which is situated directly over your sciatic nerve, becomes too tight or spasms, it can put direct pressure on the nerve.
Any injury along the nerve’s path, such as a pelvic fracture, may cause sciatica.
The number-one sign of sciatica is pain that extends from your lower back down into your buttock, through the back of your thigh, and possibly as far as your calf. Although it’s possible for sciatic nerve pain to radiate down both of your legs, it usually only affects one side of your body at any given time.
Sciatic nerve pain may feel like a mild burning sensation or a sharp, electric-like jolt. While it’s possible to experience this pain at any isolated point along the path of the nerve, sciatica is more likely to follow an uninterrupted path. It generally worsens after long periods of sitting or standing, and can be triggered or exacerbated by minor movements like reaching or sneezing.
Sciatic nerve pain may begin gradually, but it usually intensifies over time and may even become long-term or permanent if it’s left untreated. The good news, however, is that sciatica often responds well to a combination of non-invasive approaches, including physical therapy, massage therapy, and traction therapy.
When non-invasive treatment methods don’t seem to work, surgery may be the best option. Although the surgical treatment of sciatica is tailored to the individual patient, Dr. Melamed strives to offer the most minimally invasive techniques to his patients.
The overriding goal of any minimally invasive sciatic nerve surgery is to correct the underlying problem, reduce or eliminate pain, and promote optimal recovery.