Lumbar Radiculopathy, commonly known as sciatica, is pain in the lower extremities that radiates from the lumbar spine (lower back). Pain is caused by compression at the roots of the spinal nerves, and generally causes discomfort in the lower back, hips and thighs, and travels down the legs. It is a type of pain that can be consistently repeated through simple motions such as standing up, sitting down, or walking.
Compression most often occurs when the jelly-like substance in the intravertebral discs puts pressure on the nerves, either by bulging out or by leaking out through a tear in the disc membrane. In other words, it is usually the result of a herniated disc. Other causes include foraminal stenosis, where the space that nerve roots use to send signals begins to narrows and apply pressure, a condition often found in older adults. Diabetes and nerve root injuries may also lead to lumbar radiculopathy, and scar tissue from an older spinal surgery might be interfering with the nerve roots.
Before considering surgery, it is usually recommended that treatment of lumbar radiculopathy must first be done through non-invasive means. Usually a course of medications, physical therapy, and selective spinal injections are recommended by the doctor. This course tends to lest between six to eight weeks. After this course is done and the patient is still experiencing pain, then a decompressive surgery may be recommended. Surgery should be considered a last option, and is considered depending on how serious the pain you experience is, and how much it interferes with your day to day life. If no proof of nerve compression from a herniated disc can be found from an MRI, surgery will usually not be recommended.
- Pain radiating through the lower extremities
- A “popping sound” when moving the lower back
- Difficulty moving the lower extremities
- Cortisone injections
- Physical therapy
- Laser spine surgery
If you are experiencing symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy, contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Our staff is made up of spinal experts who can help diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment plan that is right for you.