Sciatica affects the lives of millions of people worldwide, and yet it is one of the most misunderstood medical conditions. Myths and misconceptions revolving around this fairly common type of back and leg pain usually lead to incorrect self-diagnosis and self-treatment. Here are three interesting facts that everyone should know about sciatica.
1. Sciatica Is Just a Description. Sciatica is not a diagnosis; it is actually a set of symptoms that can be linked to an underlying spinal condition. In most cases, people suffering from sciatica have a sciatic nerve that is being compressed by one or more spinal structures, such as a spinal disc or bone spur. This type of pressure causes leg or lower back pain that should be addressed early to minimize the discomfort experienced by the patient.
2. MRIs Aren’t Always the best Indicator of Sciatica. An abnormal spine MRI does not always mean you have a symptomatic spine problem, and the other way around. According to various clinical studies, lumbar disc herniations are present in about 30% of patients aged 30-40 years, even though these individuals do not experience sciatica or back pain. This is primarily due to the fact that pain is subjective and what one patient may feel is excruciating pain; another patient may only feel as mild discomfort. It is important that the data provided by MRI scans be interpreted in correlation with the symptoms described by the patient and his or her potential neurological deficits identified by physical examination.
3. Sciatica Does Not Always Require Surgery.
While a surgical procedure can provide relief from sciatic pain, it should not always be the first option (unless a significant neurological deficit is present). Many patients are able to relieve sciatic pain using a course of physical therapy and interventional techniques, such as injections. The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the core muscles (the muscles of the abdomen and surrounding the spine) to correct imbalances that may be triggering sciatic pain. It is only when conservative treatments do not provide relief that surgical options should be considered.
The spine specialists at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery treat conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine using both non-surgical and surgical modalities. New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery is led by Dr. Dante Implicito and Dr. John Koerner and has offices in Glen Rock and Maywood, NJ. Both physicians have extensive training and experience in the utilization of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery techniques as well as non-surgical techniques.
While here at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery, all steps in your treatment will be clearly reviewed with you by our outstanding and expert team. Our goal is to ensure your return to the healthy and active lifestyle you enjoyed in the quickest and most effective way possible. Each patient is an individual and must be treated like an individual. Our doctors emphasize a personalized and individualized treatment plan for all of their patients that aim to ensure that each patient is educated and informed when it comes to their procedure.