Why it is unusual for a lumbar disc herniation to need surgery
At any one point in time, approximately 1% of Americans have a disc herniation causing sciatica pain. The disk herniation in the lumbar spine occurs over 90% of the time at one of the lowest two levels above the sacrum, L4-L5 or L5-S1. As a spinal disk degenerates over time, it can get a tear in the outer covering (annulus) and some of the inner portion can squeeze out (the nucleus).
If the part that squeezes out pushes on the adjacent nerve root at that level, sciatica can result. The vast majority of the time, a person will not end up needing an operation for this disc herniation with sciatica.
Here is the reason why. When a disc herniation pushes on a nerve root, that in and of itself does not cause pain. The compression often sparks up inflammation in the nerve root, and that is what causes sciatica pain to shoot down a person’s leg.
This inflammation can often be controlled with either medications by mouth or an epidural steroid injection around the area of the disc herniation and the compressed nerve root.
When a person is experiencing sciatica pain and some numbness or pins and needles, that is not an absolute indication for surgery. Surgery is indicated when a person begins to have motor weakness such as a foot drop, or if conservative sciatica treatment with the medications, physical therapy and epidural steroid injection’s fails for 6 to 8 weeks.
Without any motor weakness, having surgery for a lumbar disc herniation is an elective decision. It is a quality-of-life procedure, and most individuals start to get better and continue to do so and are able to avoid spine surgery.
A person’s body knows that a disc herniation is not supposed to be in the spinal canal pushing on the nerve root. Over time, the human body will slowly disintegrate that piece of disk that has extruded. During that time, the hope is that pain relief can be achieved with medications by mouth or the injections. Over 90% of the time, this is possible and a person continues to get better while not needing surgery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from sciatica, let Arizona Pain Specialists help you. The Award-Winning, Board Certified team at Arizona Pain’s various locations consist of pain management doctors in Arizona and chiropractors working collaboratively to help you individually.
Their Arizona pain clinic locations serve Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Surprise, Goodyear, pain management Peoria AZ and more. The clinics accept Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross, Aetna, CIGNA, United, Banner, along with accepting personal injury liens and Worker’s Compensation. Multiple AHCCCS Medicaid plans are accepted as well.
To get started with treatment, call 602-507-6550 today.