As many as 40% of men and women experience sciatica pain at some point during their lifetimes, often during the middle years of life. Also called lumbar radiculopathy, sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve in your lower back (lumbar spine) is pinched, compressed, or irritated.
The longest nerve in the body, your sciatic nerve exits your spine in your lower back, dividing into two branches. Each branch travels down one leg. Sciatica can cause pain, tingling, and weakness in your lower back and along the entire branch of the nerve.
At our practice in Roseville, Minnesota, David Chang, MD-PhD, DABNS, offers an array of state-of-the-art treatments for sciatica and other spinal nerve issues, including innovative therapies for sciatica caused by the three issues listed below.
Discs are spongy separators located between each pair of vertebrae. Each disc is made up of a tough outer membrane and a gel-like interior substance, offering a sort of built-in pillow that protects your spine from jolts and helps your back stay flexible.
Normally, discs don’t extend beyond the edges of the vertebrae. But sometimes, a disc slips out of place and gets pinched by the discs on either side.
This pinching can tear the disc, allowing some of the interior gel to leak out and irritate nerves as they leave your spine. These are called herniated discs, and they’re a relatively common cause of sciatica symptoms.
Herniated discs often are the result of regular wear-and-tear on the spine, but they can also happen after a fall or other accident, especially accidents that cause the spine to twist.
Disc herniation tends to become more common as you get older and the tough ligaments that join your spine bones begin to weaken.
For the most part, the ends of your bones are smooth, designed to prevent friction with other tissues, including other bones where they meet at joints. Sometimes, though, bones can form hard, bony protuberances called spurs. These spurs rub up against other bones and tissues, including nerves.
Bone spurs often form along the edge of one or more vertebrae, typically as a result of arthritis. These spurs protrude from the edge of the bones in or near the spine joints. Every time you bend or twist your spine, the spurs press on nerves, causing painful sciatica symptoms.
Spinal tumors are a less common cause of sciatica symptoms. Like bone spurs, a tumor that grows near your spine can invade the nerve space, causing compression that leads to painful sciatica.
Spine tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant, and they can form on the vertebrae, in the tissues surrounding your spine, or even on the sciatic nerve itself.
As a top-rated complex spine neurosurgeon, Dr. Chang has significant experience treating tumors in the spine using both traditional and minimally invasive techniques, combined with radiation or chemotherapy when needed.
Sciatica may be a common cause of lower back pain, but that doesn’t mean we can’t manage it effectively. To learn how we can help with your nagging sciatica symptoms, call our Roseville, Minnesota, office at 651-219-7322 or request an appointment online with Dr. Chang today.