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Surgical Treatment for Sciatic Pain

Sciatic pain is characterized by pain and tenderness in the affected lower extremity dut to irritation or compression o the sciatic nerve.

It can be caused by accidents and various conditions like lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative disk disorders. Sciatic pain is diagnosed using imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scan, X-rays and Discogram.


Many patients recover within a few days or weeks without any medical intervention. But others experience symptom worsening and require appropriate treatment. There are several treatment options for sciatic pain including non-surgical and surgical therapy. Non-operative treatment includes the following:

* Hot or cold compress

* Steroid medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These drugs alleviate pain and inflammation

* Epidural steroid shots to relieve pain due to severely inflamed sciatic nerve

* Massage therapy, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture

* Physical therapy and workouts can be beneficial too

However, if sciatic pain is quite severe and does not resolve after 6 to 12 weeks, then your doctor may recommend you for a spinal surgery. The underlying cause as well as the duration of your sciatic pain may determine your need for this type of treatment.

There are two general types of surgery recommended for sciatic pain. These are the lumbar laminectomy (an open decompression procedure) and the microdiscectomy (microdecompression). When a herniated or slipped disk is causing the sciatic pain, your doctor recommends microdiscectomy. This is usually resorted to after about 4 to 6 weeks of unsuccessful non-surgical treatment. But this can also be considered even before the fourth to sixth week if you suffer from intense pain and considerable disability. Surgery should also be done immediately when persistent weakness in the affected part or sudden inability to control bowel movement and urination occur. Around 90-95 % of cases treated with this type of surgery experience pain relief.

Otherwise called open decompression, lumbar laminectomy is another surgical option for sciatic pain used primarily to treat lumbar spinal stenosis. This surgery involves removal of a small part of the bone above the nerve root, or a disk component from under it to give the affected nerve root sufficient space to heal. This can successfully alleviate the pain and significantly promote functional capacity of patients.

The latest surgical procedure known as the X stop was developed to minimize symptoms associated with lumbar spinal stenosis and was approved by the FDA. In this surgery, an implant is inserted into the back of the spinal column to prevent the patient from leaning backwards, which triggers an intense pain for people with lumbar spinal stenosis.

Surgical procedures to treat sciatic pain are generally elective. You have to be aware that the decision to undergo surgery for your sciatic pain basically lies with you. These surgical procedures are primarily recommended for patients suffering from spinal stenosis or a slipped/herniated disk.


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