Up to 40% of Americans experience sciatica at some point during their lives. If you have lower back pain and numbness that shoots through one or both of your legs, contact the University Pain and Spine Center in Englewood Cliffs, Somerset, Monroe Township, Freehold, and Clark, New Jersey, for diagnosis and treatment. You don’t need to live with sciatica — call the University Pain and Spine Center, or schedule a consultation online today.

Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)

Sciatica may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the lumbar spinal column.

One common cause of Lumbar Radiculopathy is a herniated disc. A herniated disc is a rupture in the fibrous outer wall of a vertebral disc, which allows the soft nucleus of the disc to bulge outward. This bulge can press harmfully against a nerve root. Another common cause of nerve root injury is degenerative disc disease. It occurs when a spinal disc weakens, allowing vertebral bones above and below the disc to shift out of position. The bones can touch, pinching nearby nerve roots. When bones, discs or joints of the spine degenerate, bony spurs may form and push into the spinal canal or foramen space. This is called spinal stenosis, and it can also create harmful pressure against the nerve roots.

What is sciatica?

Many patients believe that sciatica is a condition in itself. However, it’s actually the collective term for symptoms caused by compression of your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, starting in your lower spine and splitting to extend down both of your legs.

Depending on the location of your nerve compression, your symptoms could occur in one or both of your legs. In addition to lower back pain, sciatica includes:

  • Pain in your hips, buttocks, and legs
  • Numbness
  • Tingling or electrical sensations
  • Muscle weakness

Sciatica causes loss of coordination and balance, which can increase your risk of falling and injuring yourself.

What causes sciatica?

Any injury or condition that compresses your sciatic nerve can trigger sciatica. Some of the most common causes of sciatica include:

Herniated disc

You have rubbery discs between each of your vertebra that absorb shock and allow you to twist and bend. Each disc consists of a soft-gel interior surrounded by a firm, rubbery shell. Disc herniation occurs when the soft interior pushes through a weak spot or tear in the shell. There is very little extra space in your spinal column, so any bulging or swollen tissue is likely to compress a nerve.

Bone spur

Bone spurs are abnormal bony growths. They often develop in response to the irritation caused by arthritis. If you have a bone spur that protrudes into your spinal canal, it can press on your sciatic nerve or cause inflammation that reduces the space available for your nerves.

Spinal stenosis

Stenosis is the clinical term for narrowing. A variety of conditions like tumors, inflammation, structural abnormalities, and arthritis can cause spinal stenosis and compress your sciatic nerve.

How is sciatica treated?

The team at the University Pain and Spine Center begins with a physical exam and testing to identify the condition causing your nerve compression and the location of the problem. Then, they create a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs. Your treatment plan could include:

  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Regenerative therapies
  • Vertiflex® Superion® Indirect Decompression System
  • Disc replacement
  • Discectomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Spinal fusion

If you’re concerned about sciatica, call the University Pain and Spine Center, or make an appointment online today, for expert diagnosis and treatment.