Sciatica

John S. Michels, MD -  - Interventional Pain Management

John S. Michels, MD

Interventional Pain Management located in Dallas, TX

It’s estimated that 10-40% of adults will develop sciatica during their lifetime. When it appears, sciatica is unmistakable with its hallmark symptom of intense pain radiating from your lower back down your leg. John S. Michels, MD, of Interventional Spine & Pain in Dallas offers treatments that can relieve your pain when conservative medical care fails. To learn more about your treatment options for sciatica, schedule an appointment online or by phone today.

Sciatica Q & A

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica refers to symptoms that occur due to a pinched sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve leaves both sides of your spinal cord, travels through your buttocks, and down each leg. As it travels through your leg, the nerve branches to innervate different areas.

The trademark symptom of sciatica is severe pain that radiates down one of your legs, along the nerve. This pain develops when the nerve is compressed at the spine due to degenerative conditions that develop over time, such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bone spurs
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)

About 90% of sciatica cases are caused by a herniated disc. A disc herniates when its

tough outer covering weakens, allowing the inner gel-like layer to bulge out and push against the nerve.

Does sciatica cause symptoms other than pain?

Your symptoms may vary in intensity, but sciatica is known for causing severe, electric-shock pain that shoots down your leg. You may also develop tingling and numbness and, in severe cases, muscle weakness in the affected leg. These symptoms often worsen when you sit, stand, bend, or lift, but feel better while laying down or walking.

How is sciatica treated?

Although treatment for sciatica begins with conservative therapies, most of the current medical treatments produce limited results. As a specialist in interventional medicine, Dr. Michels provides effective options that target the source of your pain.

Two of the top interventional treatments for sciatica are epidural steroid injections and spinal cord stimulation:

Epidural steroid injection

As its name suggests, this is an injection of steroids that’s placed in the epidural space around your spine. The injection also usually includes a local anesthetic. Dr. Michels uses imaging to view the needle and ensure it’s precisely placed near the sciatic nerve.

You get immediate pain relief from the anesthetic, which temporarily blocks nerve signals. As a result, the sciatic nerve can’t send pain signals to your brain and, when your brain doesn’t get the message, you won’t feel pain.  

As the medication flows around the sciatic nerve in the epidural space, the steroids reduce inflammation, which provides longer-lasting pain relief.

Spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation relieves pain by emitting a mild electrical current to the sciatic nerve. Much like an anesthetic, the electricity blocks the nerve signals. While an anesthetic quickly wears off, pain relief from spinal cord stimulation is longer lasting because it comes from a medical device that Dr. Michels implants alongside your spine.

If you need relief from sciatica, call Interventional Spine & Pain or book an appointment online today.