Sciatica, often caused by a herniated disc, is the compression of the sciatic nerve which may lead to pain and numbness. This is a common condition that occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 in both men and women. Pain is usually noticed in the hips or lower back first, and then spreads down the back of the thighs. It may even spread further down the legs, eventually affecting the feet.
The purpose of sciatica treatment is to reduce pain and release the pressure being applied to the affected nerve.
Benefits of Sciatica Treatment
By relieving the compression on the sciatic nerve, patients experience less pain in the affected areas and are able to return to their normal routine without discomfort.
- Reduced back pain
- Increased blood flow
- Better sleep
- Improved range of motion
Sciatica Treatment Options
Depending on the cause of your pain, multiple treatment options are available. The most common are nonsurgical treatments such as massage therapy or use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
In some cases, patients will see a better result from surgery. If the pain is related to a herniated disc, a laminotomyor laminectomy may be performed.
A laminotomy is performed to make a larger opening in the lamina, a plate which protects the spinal canal as well as the spinal cord. The larger opening relives spinal and/or nerve pressure.
A laminectomy is performed when a laminotomy is insufficient. In a laminectomy all or part of the lamina is removed for one or more vertebrae to create more space for the nerves. A surgeon may perform a laminectomy with or without fusing vertebrae or removing part of a disc.
Surgery is not for everyone. However, for those who have shown no sign of improvement in 4 to 6 weeks and who have had CT scans or a MRI that shows a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, surgery may offer significant relief.
Sciatica Surgery Recovery Expectations
After your surgery, you will most likely be able to get out of bed within 24 hours of the operation, and expect to be on pain medications for 2 to 4 weeks. After the surgery, you’ll receive instructions on how to safely perform daily tasks like sitting and standing. It’s important to give your body time to heal, so you will be restricted from certain activities that uses your spine too much.
Post-Operative Surgery Instructions
Following your surgery there are several things you’ll want to do to help ensure a full recovery.
- Schedule your post-operative appointment
- Keep your incision clean and dry (even during showers)
- Wear your brace as deemed necessary by your surgeon
- Begin your physical therapy protocol as instructed
- Make sure you get plenty of rest
- Do not go swimming or sit in a hot tub, bath tub or pool
- Take medications as prescribed
- Do not lift or carry heavy objects
- Avoid driving until cleared by your surgeon
- Do not smoke or use tobacco