Every year, thousands of people seek medical help for sciatica. This nerve irritation originates in the low back and follows a path from there down the buttock, back of the thigh, and leg. The type and severity of sensation caused by sciatica can differ from one person to another. Some feel tingling and weakness, others feel constant, intense pain that prevents them from performing normal activities until the inflammation decreases. Here, we discuss some things about sciatica that you should know, including how this condition can be treated with a minimally-invasive microdiscectomy procedure.
Sciatica is a Specific Type of Nerve Pain
Nerve pain can occur for several reasons. With sciatica, the trigger is something that is happening deep in the lumbar spine. The spinal column is comprised of small bones (vertebrae) with cushiony discs in between them. Discs must be cushiony to prevent friction between the bones. However, their nature also makes them susceptible to degeneration and herniation. Disc herniation can lead to some of the soft gel center of a disc leaking out into the spinal space where it touches a nerve root. Sciatica is a term that describes irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Surgery for Sciatica
Most physicians, even spinal specialists, advise patients to manage back and neck pain with nonsurgical modalities. This may include hot and cold therapy, physical therapy, and medication. The success of this type of approach is not usually seen immediately, though. People who have suffered from sciatica pain for months or years sometimes feel as though they cannot wait any longer to achieve some degree of relief, so find surgery an ideal treatment option. Furthermore, nonsurgical modalities don’t work in every situation. Some people engage in these therapies consistently and still do not gain the improvement they need. In these situations, microdiscectomy may be the best option.
Lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that relieves sciatica pain by giving the sciatic nerve the space it needs to function properly. In the conventional surgical approach, this means working through a small incision and moving muscle out of the way to gain access to the spine. The surgeon may then remove a small part of the facet joint of the vertebra involved in nerve compression. Finally, gelatinous disc matter that has leaked due to herniation may be removed.
Dr. Thompson’s lumbar discectomy works similarly to the conventional method except that his is a laser procedure that not only addresses the herniation but also the nerve receptors that are causing pain. As a pain management specialist, his approach focuses on resolving sciatica discomfort without having to fuse a portion of the lumbar spine.