symptoms of sciatic nerve problems - Is Discectomy Spine Surgery Right for My Sciatica?
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Is Discectomy Spine Surgery Right for My Sciatica?

A discectomy is an invasive surgical procedure that removes herniated disc material that is protruding into the spinal canal and pressing upon nerve tissue. This pressure can cause numbness, weakness, tingling, or mild to severe pain in the back and leg.

When the nerve is irritated by the disc bulge it can become inflamed. Remember what it feels like to hit your finger with a hammer or catch it in a door for a moment. Following the nasty sharp pain you are left with a dull ache. The finger may become red and swollen; there may be some heat or warmth there. After a while, those symptoms settle and everything gets back to normal. Its very similar with the sciatic nerve. It becomes very sore and can give you a lot of pain, even though it is not actually trapped or squashed.

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 To understand this you need to have a bit of an idea about human spine anatomy. The spine is made up of large bones called vertebra. These bones are separated from one another by spinal discs. Each vertebra overlaps the next at the back to form a joint called a facet joint.

Sciatica profiles are a simple way you can assess your sciatica to determine if it is serious or not. Whether you need to seek help or if you can help your self at home. Should you be active or not, and if you need to be active which activities are best.

Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is a term often used to describe all sorts of back pain. In fact, less than 5% of people who suffer from lower back pain will have sciatica.

The disc can and does cause problems however. Sometimes the central area of the disc bulges, usually backwards and sideways. This can cause an irritation of the nerve root as it leaves the spine. Occasionally the bulge is severe enough to actually squash or trap the nerve but this is fairly rare.

The best way to tell if it is sciatica is to undergo a series of test that your physiotherapist or doctor can perform. These simple clinical tests will be enough to identify if the problem is an irritated sciatic nerve. Paula Fitzpatrick is a British trained physiotherapist specialising in the treatment of back pain. Visit The Lower Back Pain Toolkit for up to date, reliable information about the causes and treatment of lower back pain. Learn more about sciatica and sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica is scary, the pain travels down your leg and stops you performing you daily tasks. You once could jump out of bed and do everything you wanted to do, from putting in 100% effort at work to playing with your children.

The answers to these questions are essential if you want relief from your sciatica. After all the biggest fear is that you will never be free of your sciatica pain, that you will need up needing surgery and therefore never get back to full activity.

What causes sciatic nerve pain? The most common cause of sciatica is a disc bulge. The disc is a very misunderstood structure; it has been blamed for back pain ever since it was discovered. Over the years we have started to believe that the disc is a really weak and vulnerable structure.

Is this likely? Or is your sciatica only minor? Knowing the answers to these sciatica profile questions helps to dispel your fears and frustrations about sciatica. You can then relax knowing with confidence you do not need to be scared of your sciatica.

If you knew the answer to some simple questions then you can easily determine whether you need help, if your sciatica will ease quickly or if you have something actually to be scared of.

Running down through the middle of the spine is a channel called the spinal canal, its here that the spinal cord sits. The spinal cord is the main structure that passes messages from our brains to our bodies.

The term slipped disc makes it sound as if it can slip about inside. In truth the disc cant slip anywhere, it is firmly fixed at the top and at the bottom to the vertebrae above and below.

As a result, the patient can experience less pain and a quicker recovery. Not all patients are able undergo discectomies or microdiscectomies. A lot has to do with the particular nature of the patient's herniated disc.

This article is not meant to replace the advice of your personal health care provider. Be sure to consult with your physician to explore all your back pain treatment options before taking any medical course of action.

Is it chronic or acute? Does this mean you will end up living with sciatica if you have had it for years? Will it continually get worse? 3 - What type of pain do you have?

Sciatica is a type of pain typically experienced around the Sciatic nerve in the back. Characterized by slow pain or sharp jabs, Sciatica can nearly paralyze a human, pain experienced in the back, from neck al the way into legs can render a person incapable of performing regular functions such as walking or even sitting. Sciatica can be disgnosed with professional help, using medical history and simple tests to find intensity and origin of the pain. In some cases, simple exercises can improve the pain management. Simple exercises, along with keeping joints flexible (especially in case of mature people), can help with daily management. Anti-inflammatory painkiller helps. Studies have shown that non treatment of Sciatica makes it stay, and in most cases, get worse. Even through the patient may feel pain while walking and sitting, staying mobile is almost always better than resting or lying down. For chronic Sciatica pain, professional help can be sought and once the root cause diagnosed, appropriate treatment can help improve and rid the problem. Surgery, if needed, can help improve and relieve the pain as well as the cause.

What are the symptoms of sciatica? If someone has true sciatica then they often have pain in the legs, usually in the buttock, back of the thigh or calf. There may also be pins and needles and numbness in parts of the leg.

Discectomy surgery is a common treatment for herniated or ruptured discs of the lumbar spine and may be used for back pain sufferers who have not responded to traditional non-surgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, traction, spinal decompression, and epidural steroid injections.

4 - Does your sciatica get worse or better with activity? Should you rest or be active? Does it make a difference to how fast you will heal? What activity is best to do?


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Different pain characteristics help you understand the actual cause of your pain and what you need to do to remove it. Do you know which type you have?

An important thing to know is that many people have disc bulges and have no symptoms at all. There are some other conditions that can cause sciatic nerve pain but they are much less common. These include degenerative disc disease, severe osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. Fractures, tumours and infection can also cause sciatica.

Do you know if your Sciatica is a worry? Should you be scared? Complete this Sciatica Profile to assess how bad your sciatica is, and its free!

Are you one of the over 80% of adults suffering from back pain? Then you need simple, valuable and expert advice. Dr Graeme Teague is an expert in the structural field, and has been in practice since 1991 - visit The Back Pain Advisor - for valuable and expert advice, tips and information on your back pain issues.

The scariest thing now is your sciatica may never disappear. You may need up needing surgery or spend a life time with that nagging back pain. You may be worried now that your as your flexibility diminishes, there is no hope.

At each vertebra the spinal cord braches out to form a nerve root, these nerve roots leave the spine via a gap between each vertebra and then bundle together to form much larger nerves.

In the legs there are two main, large nerves, the femoral nerve at the front and the sciatic nerve at the back. The sciatic nerve passes down through the buttock area into the back of the thigh and leg.

If it travels right down your leg does that mean it is more serious than pain in the buttock. If it is serious what should you do? 2 - How long have you had your back pain?

Why are so many people given the diagnosis of sciatica? Very often, as soon as anyone has any lower back or leg symptoms they are told that have sciatica. However, there are other things that can cause leg pain; a strained facet joint for example can cause pain in the buttock and thigh. But if the sciatic nerve is not irritated then it is not sciatica.

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For more information on discectomy alternatives see DRX9000 spinal decompression for sciatica at, a popular site with free info on the DRX9000 and other back pain treatments.

Microdiscectomy Alternative A newer, less invasive form of discectomy is also now available. This procedure is called a microdiscectomy and uses special magnifying and muscle-spreading instruments to allow the surgeon to view and operate on the herniated disc region. The surgeon can then perform the procedure through a smaller incision and cause less damage to the surrounding muscle and tissue.

Simple questions that most of you do not know the answers to. The big five questions you need to know are: 1 - How far does your sciatica travel?

Sciatica is caused by a sciatic nerve irritation. This is most commonly caused by a disc bulge in the lower back. What is the sciatic nerve?

Herniated Discs Here is a simplified explanation of what happens with a ruptured or herniated disc. The disc itself is kind of like a soft jelly-filled donut. The outer wall of the disc is called the annulus fibrosus and the inner part of the disc -- the jelly part -- is called the nucleus pulposus. When the outer part of the disc becomes weakened, it can tear and allow some of the inner nucleus pulposus to leak out. When this inner jelly presses on the surrounding nerve tissue it can weakness, tingling and pain in the back and legs.

Before being considered for either type of surgery, the doctor will typically have an imaging study performed such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (computed tomography) scan in order to help diagnose the specific cause of the problem. Discectomy and microdiscectomy procedures are normally done in a hospital under general anesthesia. In some cases discectomy can be performed in an outpatient surgical center.

In severe cases the leg may feel weak and the strength may be reduced. Often, disc bulges cause no back pain at all; the symptoms are felt only in the legs.

5 - How did you back pain start? Falls, injuries, a slow or sudden build up of sciatica. These can determine whether you should seek help or whether you can help your self at home. This is vital information.

What Happens In A Discectomy? In a traditional discectomy -- often referred to as an open discectomy -- an incision is made in the patient's back over the herniated disc region. Muscle tissue around the herniated disc is removed and a retractor may be used to keep the muscle tissue and skin out of the way which gives the surgeon better access to the surgical area. In some cases, some of the vertebrae bone -- called the lamina -- may need to be removed to allow the surgeon better access to the disc. This procedure is called a laminectomy. Once the herniated disc fragments have been removed, the muscle tissue is put back and the surgical incision is closed with sutures.

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