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Solutions for Sciatica Pain

Like far-sightedness and slowing metabolisms, sciatica is a common problem faced by many people as they approach middle age. In fact, almost half of all adults between the ages of 30 and 50 will deal with sciatica at some point.

Although sciatica originates in the lumbar (lower) spine, it usually presents itself with severe thigh, leg and foot pain. Numbness and weakness in the extremities is also common.

But the good news is that we have several minimally invasive ways to treat this painful condition.

What Causes Sciatica?

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or ruptured disc. Discs are soft, rubbery pads between the bony vertebrae of the spine. When we are young, the discs are comprised of almost 80 percent water. But as we age, the water content decreases and they become less pliable and more susceptible to wear and tear. If the disc’s outer ring of cartilage develops a tear, the inner nucleus can bulge out like toothpaste, putting pressure on surrounding nerves, particularly the sciatic nerve which has many branches that extend from the spine down the length of the leg. Pain, numbness or weakness may be experienced anywhere along the branches, from the buttocks all the way down to the shin and foot.

Diagnosing the Source of Sciatica

To properly diagnose sciatica, a comprehensive clinical examination, including neurological and musculoskeletal testing, is a must because symptoms are NOT always typical. The condition may be caused by a herniated disc, but sometimes spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) may trigger sciatica. Imaging tests such as an MRI and EMG/nerve studies are essential to accurately pinpoint the cause and exact location of the nerve root irritation.

Relief Without Surgery

Advances in minimally invasive treatments mean you can enjoy safe, effective relief from sciatic pain. Consider this:

  • Up to 90 percent of herniated discs can be treated without surgery.
  • Even for persistent, intense pain, selective epidural injections can provide much-needed relief.
  • Epidural injections are extremely accurate, very effective and have been safely used for well over 100 years to treat spinal pain.
  • Using advanced x-ray equipment called a fluoroscope, physicians can see and deliver strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the inflamed disc and irritated nerves.
  • Many patients gain considerable relief with the first injection; however, up to three injections can be given in a six-month period.

Epidural injections are covered by most insurance policies and are performed with local anesthesia in our offices’ state-of-the-art procedure suites. The procedure generally takes about 30 minutes and we will ask you to remain with us under observation for another 45 minutes. Unlike surgical interventions, there is no need for general anesthesia or a hospital stay. In fact, many patients return to work or their other activities immediately after their treatment.

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