SciaticaSciatica is pain that runs down the longest nerve in the body, known as the sciatic nerve. Pain starts in the lower back and spreads down one leg, into the calf and possibly the foot. It is rare but sciatica can occur in both legs. The pain is mild to severe and feels worse when sneezing, coughing, bending, and standing/sitting in certain positions. The pain is often accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in affected legs.
When it’s Time to Consider Surgery for Sciatica
- With bowel or bladder dysfunction, this is also rare, but it can happen with spinal cord compression and cauda equina syndrome.
- Spinal stenosis, where the doctor believes that surgery is the best approach.
- There are neurologic dysfunctions like severe leg weakness
- Symptoms become severe and non-surgical treatment is no longer effective
Sciatica for Surgery OptionsSurgery for sciatica is performed to relieve the added compression/pressure on the nerves and relieve the pain. Options include a microdiscectomy and laminectomy. Each has its similarities and differences when it comes to the preparation, process, and recovery for the operation.
MicrodiscectomyDuring a microdiscectomy, part or all of the herniated disc is removed. Research has shown the effectiveness of relieving pain to be around 80 to 95 percent of patients. The operation is done in a hospital or surgery center and requires about one hour to complete. General anesthesia is administered during this procedure.
- A surgeon will make an incision over the affected disc.
- Skin and tissue covering the disc will be opened and moved for better access. Some of the bone could be taken out as part of the procedure called a laminotomy.
- The surgeon will use various tools to remove all or part of the herniated disc.
- Once the removal is done, the surgeon will close the incision and send you to a recovery room.
- To quicken the healing process patients are encouraged to start walking within hours of the procedure.
- Most go home the same day. Some patients will have to stay at the hospital for observation. This could be from other conditions present.
- You will not be allowed to operate a vehicle the same day. Therefore a designated driver will be necessary.
- The procedure takes about one to three hours from start to finish.
- Both sides of the laminae are removed, along with the spinous process in the middle.
- The patient lies face-down as the surgeon makes an incision near the affected vertebrae.
- Skin and muscles are moved around and various tools/instruments are used to remove all or part of the lamina. Overgrowth of bone or spinal disc could also be removed.
- The incision is stitched or stapled, bandaged, and sent to a recovery room.
- Just like a microdiscectomy the individual will be encouraged to begin walking the same day.
- Most individuals leave the hospital after surgery, however, a one to possible three-night could be required for others.
- A driver does need to be designated for the ride home.