Sciatica refers to pain that starts in the lower back or hip and radiates down the leg. Sciatica is the result of nerve compression in the lower back caused by herniated discs or other conditions. The key to treating sciatica is to determine the actual cause of the symptoms.
Dr. Franco Vigna has extensive experience with diagnosing and treating spine conditions like sciatica and its underlying causes. Though he is a board-certified orthopedic and fellowship-trained spine surgeon, he provides a wide range of treatment options, many of which do not involve surgery. At reVive Spine Center, we have a comprehensive team of specialists, including chiropractic care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and interventional pain management and spinal surgery. Our care teams work together with Dr. Vigna to provide patients with solutions to help patients get back to the activities and lifestyles they enjoy. Surgery is considered if more conservative options are ineffective in helping patients reach their goals.
Causes & Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure on one of the nerve roots in the lower spine. It is caused by an underlying condition, such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. These conditions often develop as we age with wear and tear on the spine, but can also occur in younger patients.
Sciatica symptoms begin in the lower back or hip and radiate down the leg. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but may include:
- The feeling of having a bad leg cramp, with sharp pain
- Pain down the leg when you move, sneeze, or cough
- Weakness in the leg
- A tingling, “pins and needles” sensation in the leg
- Numbness in the leg
- Burning sensation in the leg
Dr. Vigna’s Process for Diagnosing Sciatica
Dr. Vigna strongly believes that a thorough examination and diagnostic process is necessary to not only determine the best course of treatment, but also to learn more about the patient’s personal needs and goals.
Testing may include x-rays to check the alignment and stability of the spine and MRIs to view the discs and nerves in the spine. Nerve conduction studies like EMG testing may also be done to help pinpoint the location of the symptoms.
However, the most important part of Dr. Vigna’s process is taking the time to actually listen to his patients and ask the right questions about what they are experiencing. Spine conditions are complex, and different conditions can cause similar symptoms. Getting an accurate diagnosis is a lot like detective work, and having that conversation is often the key to getting the right answers.
Treatment Options for Sciatica
Once Dr. Vigna has determined the underlying cause of sciatica, he will recommend treatment options based on those findings. By addressing the cause, we can address the sciatica symptoms.
Initial treatment for sciatica is typically nonsurgical, starting with the conservative options and progressing from there. Surgery is recommended when nonsurgical options do not provide sufficient relief from symptoms.
Nonsurgical Sciatica Treatments
The care providers at reVive Spine Center work together under the guidance of Dr. Vigna to provide an array of nonsurgical treatment options for sciatica, including:
- Chiropractic Care - Chiropractic adjustments can be very effective for some patients when working hand-in-hand with a spine specialist. Dr. Shaun Morgan is our on-staff chiropractor.
- Physical Therapy - Dr. Vigna works with physical therapy partners to help patients meet their goals.
- Interventional Pain Management - Dr. Swinarski provides interventional pain management services, employing the use of injections to provide relief from sciatica symptoms. This can help patients better participate in physical therapy and chiropractic care, and has reduced long-term effects on the body versus over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and addictive opioid pain medications.
- Nonoperative Spinal Decompression - Dr. Morgan also specializes in nonsurgical spinal decompression, which can be effective for some patients depending on the underlying cause of sciatica.
Surgical Options for Sciatica
Surgical options may vary based on the patient’s diagnosis. Dr. Vigna tailors the procedure to the individual patient’s needs and desired lifestyle.
Surgical treatments for sciatica may include:
- Minimally invasive discectomy
- Laminotomy and discectomy
- Spinal fusion with fixation devices
- Coflex, an interlaminar stabilization device
Dr. Vigna will explain recommended surgical options ahead of the procedure. Depending on the procedure and the patient’s overall health, Dr. Vigna may do the surgery as an outpatient procedure. After surgery, we often encourage patients to get up and walk around as soon as possible. Many are walking the day of surgery.
If needed, patients may continue to work with physical therapy while they recover. Dr. Vigna and our team encourage patients to be active after they have healed, and will advise when it is safe to return to certain activities. Our goal is ultimately to get you back to doing the things you want to do.
Sciatica Treatment in Western New York
Dr. Franco Vigna is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in spinal surgery, and he tailors his surgery to your specific problems, needs, and goals. Dr. Vigna believes that a thorough evaluation is the key component to diagnosing the underlying cause of sciatica, and that listening to his patients is an important part of the exam. Dr. Vigna works with our team, which includes chiropractic care, physical therapy, and interventional pain management to provide patients with a wide range of nonsurgical options. If surgery is needed, Dr. Vigna will tailor the procedure to your needs. Our #1 goal is to help you get your desired lifestyle back.