Orthopedic Surgeon & Spine Surgeon located in Henderson, NV & Las Vegas, NV
Sciatica is a common issue, affecting around 40% of Americans at some point during their lives. If you have pain, numbness, and/or tingling which starts in your low back or buttocks and radiates down your leg past your knee, you probably have sciatica. Contact Patrick S. McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS, a double-board certified, award-winning orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist at McNulty Spine (Las Vegas Neurosurgical Institute) in Las Vegas. You don’t have to put up with pain. Call McNulty Spine or schedule a consultation online today.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the collective name for symptoms caused by compression of the spinal nerves in your lower lumbar spine which make up the sciatic nerve. Sciatica ranges in severity and includes:
- Lower back pain
- Pain that travels into your buttocks and travels down your legs to your feet
- Numbness or tingling sensations in one or both of your legs or feet
- Weakness in one or both of your legs
Your pain issues could vary. You could have little to no pain, but have significant issues of tingling, numbness, and weakness. Most people will have significant issues of radiating pain down the leg.
What causes sciatica?
Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. There are two, one on each side. It begins with the spinal nerves in your lower lumbar spine and extends down into your buttocks and hamstring. It then splits about the knee, traveling down to your feet.
A variety of conditions and injuries can irritate your sciatic nerve and trigger sciatica.
A herniated disc in your lower lumbar spine is the most common cause of sciatica, although your symptoms may also be caused by:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
Your risk of sciatica usually peaks in your 30s or 40s, although it can occur at any age. Your risk of sciatica also increases if you’re overweight, lead a sedentary lifestyle, or have a career that requires you to lift heavy objects frequently. The vast majority of the time, it just happens, even to the most healthy individuals.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
At McNulty Spine, Dr. McNulty provides comprehensive history and physical exam to diagnose sciatica and the condition causing it.
During the exam, Dr. McNulty asks you to complete a few maneuvers which stretch your sciatic nerve. If the movements trigger your symptoms, he knows that something is compressing your sciatic nerve.
He may also use diagnostic imaging studies such as MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays to identify and locate the specific condition causing your symptoms.
How is sciatica treated?
Treatment for sciatica depends on the condition causing it. For example, you may benefit from spinal injections to reduce inflammation and physical therapy.
However, if your sciatica is severe and doesn’t improve with noninvasive treatments, Dr. McNulty may recommend surgical procedures such as lumbar laminectomies to widen your spinal canal or limited discectomy to remove the piece of herniated disc compressing your spinal nerves. There may also be a need for a fusion reconstruction depending on the details of your case.
If you’re concerned about sciatica, call McNulty Spine or make an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment.