Today, I’m here to talk to you about a super common condition that you’ve probably heard of called lumbar radiculopathy. Many people know this condition by its layman term, which is sciatica. This condition is due to a pinched nerve in your lower back. Many times you may not have any back pain at all. But when you do, typically, what you experience is severe pain in the buttock and down the leg.
It’s typically accompanied by muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, or a combination of all three. It can develop slowly over time, and in a lot of cases, it can happen suddenly. You don’t have to be involved in a massive sports catastrophe or a high energy car crash to develop this condition. I met patients who had a herniated disc with a severely pinched nerve, just from standing up in the kitchen to get a glass of water.
Is Sciatica Treatable?
The good news is that the condition is entirely treatable. Not all cases of a pinched nerve in the back or lumbar radiculopathy (sciatica) require surgery. Most patients are treated non-
surgically. 75% of people get better without surgery—especially the more mild cases. If you have a pinched nerve in your back, have these symptoms in the buttock or down the leg, you must get evaluated by an expert.
Moreover, we can help you understand the condition and help initiate the treatment; in many cases, we will start with nonsurgical treatment, including muscle relaxers, a short-term steroid course, physical therapy, or even chiropractic treatment. However, when these aren’t enough to make your symptoms go away, sometimes we do need to perform surgery. Our goal is to un-pinch the nerve, and get you back to everyday life.
What if I Need Surgery?
Many of these surgeries that we perform are relatively small and don’t take that long, and don’t have that long of a recovery period. For example, most patients who undergo surgery for this condition feel immensely better when they wake up from anesthesia. Additionally, if you have these types of symptoms, I would strongly encourage you to give us a call and let us evaluate you. If for no other reason than to put your mind at ease so you don’t have to worry and give you an answer to what might be causing your trouble.
In many cases, people come in and think they have a pinched nerve, but it is something much more severe. Furthermore, for both of these reasons, please give us a call, let us evaluate you, present you with your options. We’ll educate you about your options, and we will do everything in our power to help you return to a higher quality of life.
Dr. Chris Hulen is a traumatic and reconstructive spine surgeon at KSF Orthopaedic Center in Houston, Texas. If you would like to see Dr. Hulen talk about sciatica, please watch the video below. You can also visit his physician page for more information.
The information in this article and video are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to treat or diagnose, nor are they intended as a replacement for care from a qualified healthcare professional.