Sciatica

Innovative Spine Care

Minimally Invasive Spine Specialist located in Tampa, FL

Sciatica originates in your lower spine, but the pain is often worse in your buttock and leg. If you’re experiencing symptoms of sciatica, Stephen Watson, MD, of Innovative Spine Care in Tampa, Florida, can help. Dr. Watson has expertise in minimally invasive thulium laser discectomy and neural decompression for treating the herniated discs that so often cause sciatica. Find out how you could benefit from laser discectomy for sciatica by calling Innovative Spine Care today or booking an appointment online.

Sciatica Q&A

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term for pain radiating along the sciatic nerve. This nerve exits your spinal column in your lower back, traveling down through your buttocks and into the back of each leg.

Sciatica pain results from compression of the sciatic nerve — a pinched nerve, in other words. Sciatic nerve compression can occur for several reasons, including:

Herniated discs

The most common trigger for sciatica is disc herniation in your lower back. A herniated disc has a crack in the fibrous outer shell, allowing some of the softer core to leak. This leaking tissue irritates or presses on the sciatic nerve.

Spinal stenosis

Stenosis is the narrowing of the space inside your spinal column.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra slips out of position, affecting your spinal alignment. This can narrow the opening through which your sciatic nerve exits your spine.

Piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome originates in the piriformis muscle deep within your buttocks. The muscle can tighten or spasm, compressing the sciatic nerve.

What are some common sciatica symptoms?

The most common sciatica symptom is a sharp, shooting pain or burning sensation that’s usually worse in your leg than in your back. Tingling, numbness, and aching may occur, usually in the back of the affected leg. 

The leg may also feel heavy and weak, and you might find it difficult to lift your foot off the floor.

These symptoms can change when you move positions. For example, you may only have pain when lying down, or you might feel worse when you’re sitting or as you stand up. Sciatica symptoms also vary to a degree depending on where the nerve compression occurs.

What treatments are available for sciatica?

In many cases, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can ease the worst sciatica pain. Many people improve over 4-6 weeks with a combination of rest, medication, hot and cold therapy, and stretching exercises.

If your pain is severe or persists despite self-care measures, Dr. Watson offers several treatment options, including:

  • Prescription painkillers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

Nonsurgical therapies are often successful in resolving sciatica pain, but if they don’t work for you or your condition is particularly severe, surgery might be necessary.

What does surgery for sciatica involve?

The surgery Dr. Watson uses to treat sciatica due to disc problems is called laser discectomy and neural decompression. He delivers thulium laser (light) energy to the damaged discs through a needle in your spine, turning off your pain receptors and sealing your blood vessels.

This procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional discectomy and fusion surgery that has minimal effect on your spine’s range of motion.

To find relief from your sciatica, call Innovative Spine Care today or book an appointment online.