When Is Surgery Necessary for Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Woman with a baston

The sciatic nerve is commonly associated with lower back pain because it is the nerve that stems from your lower back into each of your legs. When the pressure in the lower back puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it causes pain, numbness, loss of mobility, and other symptoms that make life difficult.

Occasional sciatic nerve pain can occur from sitting too long. This usually goes away after a bit of stretching, exercising, and icing. However, long-lasting sciatic nerve pain may be related to a more serious condition. This is known as sciatica.

Treatments for sciatica vary depending on its cause and severity. Some people with sciatica can find relief in physical therapy or medications. However, if these treatments don’t work or if the pain is too severe, you may need surgery for treatment.

Reasons you may need surgery for sciatic nerve pain:

Surgery is usually not the first option for treating sciatica because it involves greater risks than those of conservative treatments. However, thanks to advancements in medical technology, many surgical procedures for sciatica are minimally invasive. This means there are lower risks, less pain and shorter recovery times than you may realize.

Signs that you may need surgery for sciatic nerve pain include:

  • Conservative treatments are not working
  • You have nerve damage
  • You have a loss of bladder or bowel control

Common orthopedic surgeries for treating sciatic nerve pain:

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in a variety of surgeries for treating back pain. If you have sciatica and need surgery, it’s likely you’ll undergo one of these two procedures:

  • Discectomy — A discectomy is the partial or total removal of one or more of the discs in your spine. This is usually done to reduce pressure off the nerve caused by conditions like herniated discs or degenerative disc disease (DDD). If only a portion of the disc needs to be removed, the orthopedic surgeon will likely perform a microdiscectomy procedure, which is more minimally invasive than a discectomy.
  • Laminectomy — A laminectomy is the partial or total removal of the lamina off of one or more of your vertebra. The lamina is supposed to protect the spinal cord from harm, but if it grows more narrow due to conditions like spinal stenosis, it puts pressure on the spinal cord. This can lead to sciatica in the lower back.

Visit the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute for sciatica treatment

If you’re suffering from sciatica and are not able to find relief in conservative treatments, surgery may be the right option for you. Our orthopedic surgeons at the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute can perform minimally invasive surgery to help reduce your back pain and improve your range of motion. Contact us today to learn more about sciatica treatment or to schedule an initial appointment.