Sciatica is a term commonly used to describe pain felt within the back or leg. The formal medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy.

What is sciatica?

There are many causes of sciatica, and I will go over the different causes later in this post. When I use the term sciatica, I am referring to the pain that radiates down the back of the leg, with the source of pathology being in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is one of the major nerves of the leg that consists of a combination of different nerve roots from the lumbar spine. When a patient experiences sciatica, usually this means there is compression of the nerve as it tries to leave the spine, causing a pain/burning/tingling/discomfort running down the leg.

Most people will experience some form of sciatica during their lifetime, and in most cases, it will come and go on its own and self-resolve. Sometimes inflammation of the sciatic nerve can cause this pain. Common causes of sciatica can include lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spondylolisthesis, spinal instability, amongst others.

When is sciatica worth getting evaluated?

Sciatica can come in varying degrees of severity. Sometimes it is merely an annoyance that is bothersome intermittently. However, it can also present as all day, every day excruciating pain. If you are having persistent pain in your leg, weakness of the leg, or difficulty walking, it is probably a good idea to be evaluated.

You should especially seek evaluation if you have any progressive weakness, numbness, or loss of function within the legs, or loss of control over your bodily functions, including urination and defecation.

How is sciatica treated?

Many cases of sciatica can be treated with conservative care, including observation, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications. More severe cases of sciatica may require advanced imaging, such as an MRI to evaluate the cause. Sometimes, epidural steroid injections, which act as anti-inflammatory, delivered directly to the inflamed nerves, can be used to calm down an episode of sciatica.

If severe sciatica does not respond to conservative care, it may need to be treated with surgical intervention. The surgery performed may include a lumbar discectomy, lumbar laminectomy or others, depending on what exactly is causing the nerve compression.

To arrange an appointment Sciatica diagnosis or treatment, contact Dr Wheeler at +1 214-265-3270




Dallas Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
Dr Michael R Wheeler, MD
Orthopedic Spine Specialist Procedures