Understanding the problem
Sciatica, in a simple definition, is the pain and symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve in the lower back is compressed.
This condition often occurs as a result of the natural aging and weakening of the spine over time, which can cause a disc, vertebra or joint in the lumbar spine (lower back) to move out of alignment and press against the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve extends the length of the lower back, buttocks and legs, which means that the pain and symptoms that accompany nerve compression can travel from the lower back down into the legs and sometimes even the feet.
Understanding who suffers
Most people have five lumbar vertebrae (a few have six). These five vertebrae bear most of the weight of the upper body and are subjected to a great deal of wear and tear related to bending, twisting, sitting, standing and other physical acts. Constant pressure from the surrounding vertebrae due to years of bending and moving, and sometimes weight gain, can cause a disc in the spine to deteriorate, which can lead one or more of several degenerative spine conditions, such as:
- Bulging disc
- Herniated disc
- Bone spurs (osteophytes)
- Ligament ossification
These degenerative spine conditions can cause sections of the spine to move out of alignment and press against the sciatic nerve. This compression may cause symptoms such as lower back pain, shooting pain through the buttocks, legs and feet, and/or tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the lower extremities. This set of symptoms is known as sciatica.
Potential Signs and Symptoms
Sciatica symptoms vary considerably, depending on the type and severity of the underlying condition. Tingling, numbness, weakness or a dull to sharp shooting pain down the thigh and leg may be felt. Typically, the pain starts slowly and affects only one side of the body at a time but it is possible to experience it on both sides as well.
Other sciatica symptoms include:
- Difficulty sitting, standing or walking
- Worsening pain when coughing, laughing or sneezing
- Discomfort when leaning backward
- Muscle weakness
Examinations Usually Required
Those who are experiencing the above symptoms should contact a physician or back specialist to confirm a positive diagnosis for this condition. Most physicians will begin the office visit with a series of questions to assess the duration and severity of patient’s symptoms. A physical exam, which usually includes a straight leg raise test for sciatica, may also be performed to test for reflexes and range of motion. In some cases a CT scan, X-ray or MRI may be ordered if there is a need to find the location of nerve compression.
Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS
If symptoms of sciatica do not improve after several weeks or months of conservative sciatica treatment, surgery might be suggested as the next step. The type of surgery required will depend on the underlying cause of the sciatica and the location of the sciatic nerve compression.
The goal of surgical treatment is to access the spine and take pressure off of the affected nerve. Treatment options depend on the location and severity of the injury.
AIMIS provides various surgical options depending on an individual’s problem and include:
- Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery,
- Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery,
- Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery,
- Total Disk Replacement (TDR),
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion,
- Decompressor Discectomy,
- Lumbar Disc Microsurgery Treatment
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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons
AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment
Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
- Can I get more information before I commit to this?
- Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
- How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:
AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.
AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.
Further information on the problem:
Acute sciatica occurs when the collection of symptoms known as sciatica come on suddenly and result in severe pain. The pain can be debilitating and can keep a patient from performing everyday activities or even getting out of bed, if the attack is severe enough. Acute sciatica is generally described as lasting less than three months, while chronic sciatica lasts for three months or longer. Chronic sciatica can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Like most chronic pain, this condition requires the patient to find pain management and coping strategies to help keep the situation under control.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the lower back and down each leg. When this nerve or the nerve roots in the spine that are connected to it become pinched, the collection of potential symptoms that can result is called sciatica. Acute sciatica is often brought on by sprains to soft tissues like muscles and tendons, but it can also be the result of degeneration in spinal anatomy, such as herniated discs, bulging discs, degenerative disc disease or foraminal stenosis.
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups
While sciatica is related to the natural aging process, which cannot be avoided, there are a number of activities that can increase the likelihood that a person develops the condition. Sciatica risk factors include:
- Smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol excessively
- Engaging in a sedentary lifestyle
- Participating in high-impact sports or exercise
- Engaging in repetitive physical activities, like lifting boxes
- Carrying excess body mass
Taking steps to avoid or cease these behaviors can lead to tangible improvements in the spine health that can relieve pain and improve mobility. For example, a diet and exercise plan designed to help a patient lose weight while strengthening core muscles can take pressure off the lower spine and potentially relieve sciatic nerve compression.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery
AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.
Other Services Provided by AIMIS
In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.