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Spine Surgery Guide

Surgery for Sciatica

Injections for Sciatica

When the disc of the spine wears and tears due to either aging or injury or trauma, its structure is compromised. The gelatinous material within the disc no longer acts as a cushion between the vertebrae and it may become herniated. When the disc is herniated, pressure is placed on the spinal cord as well as the surrounding nerve tissues. Depending on the location of the herniated disc, the result is pain and the patient may also experience other symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness. With sciatica, the disc is affecting the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and is located on each side of the body.

Epidural steroid injections are a treatment used to temporarily alleviate any pain associated with sciatica. Injections for sciatica have been used for pain relief for years and play a big role in non surgical procedures. These injections for sciatica normally will provide enough relief to allow the sufferer to go through a rehabilitative program to get to the root of the problem. If the injections for sciatica are effective, three can be administered over a one year period.

The injections for sciatica contain cortisone and a local anesthetic. The cortisone helps reduce the inflammation which in turns helps with easing the pain associated with sciatica. The local anesthetic acts as a temporary pain relief, but may also aid in diluting the chemical agents which cause inflammation.

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Sciatic Nerve Surgery

When to consider sciatica nerve surgery? If, after six to twelve weeks the pain has not diminished, sciatica nerve surgery may be considered. Examination by a physician will be performed on the legs to verify signs of weakness associated with knee bending and movements of the feet, reflexes may be weak or abnormal. Once the examination is complete, tests will be performed to pin point the cause of the dysfunction. Tests will normally include MRI’s, blood tests, X-Rays or other types of tests.

Usually there are two types of surgical procedures that can be considered. The first being a microdecompression which is performed if the pain stems from a herniated disc and has not shown signs of improvement after six weeks. However, sciatica nerve surgery could be performed sooner if the pain is severe and having a debilitating affect on the patients lifestyle. Sciatica nerve surgery is elective and is decided on based on the amount of pain the patient is experiencing and whether it has affected their work, leisure and recreation and sleep.

The second procedure that may be performed as sciatica surgery is called lumbar laminectomy and once again is an elective procedure. This prodecure is usually only considered once all other treatments and procedures have been pursued. Lumbar laminectomy usually provides pain relief to approximately 70 to 80% of patients who elect to pursue this route. There are both conservative as well as minimally invasive sciatica nerve surgery that can be offered to patients. The difference between these two types of sciatic nerve surgery vary and the latter, that is minimally invasive surgery, outweighs conservative sciatic nerve surgery due to the minimal risks involved as well as the high success rate and quick recovery process.

Recovery from Surgery to Relieve Sciatica

After your surgery, you aren't going to be instantly better. You will most likely be out of bed within 24 hours, and you’ll be on pain medications for 2 to 4 weeks. After the surgery, you'll receive instructions on how to carefully sit, rise, and stand. It's important to give your body time to heal, so your doctor will probably recommend that you restrict your activities: in general, don’t do anything that moves your spine too much. You should avoid contact sports, twisting, or heavy lifting while you recover.
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