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Sciatica Surgery 101: What You Can Expect

Man with sciatica pain

Are you having bad cramps running down the back of your leg? Is it hard to get relief from the constant pain no matter what you try?

It’s possible that you may have sciatica and that you may need to consider surgery.

In the end, the decision to have surgery is up to you and you can try other measures before you go through with it. For some sufferers, it’s going to be the quickest path to real relief.

In this article, we’re going to go over all the benefits of sciatica surgery and everything you need to know before you make a decision.

1. Why You Should Consider Sciatica Surgery

Surgery is best considered if you’ve had pain running down your leg for four weeks or more without any signs of it letting up. You should also consider it if your doctor has given steroids or other medications to relieve the pain and they haven’t worked.

These issues will be annoying and limit what you can do, but they don’t warrant you getting emergency surgery. Emergency surgery is only absolutely necessary if you’ve lost control of your bowels or your legs start to feel shaky and weak.

2. Microdiscectomy for Sciatica

A microdiscectomy is done in the event of a lumbar disk herniation. It’s a minor surgery where a small incision is made and the part that’s pinching the nerve is removed, leaving everything else intact.

It’s the most common surgery solution for the issue and considered for a pain that keeps up for more than 4 weeks.

3. Lumbar Laminectomy

If the source of your pain is lumbar spinal stenosis, a lumbar laminectomy might be prescribed.  In this procedure, the portion of your bone or disk material that is putting a strain on the nerve is removed.

Your doctor will suggest this route if the pain in your back and legs are causing you so much pain that it’s hard for you to function normally. This is pain that is way past acceptable levels.

4. How to Recover After the Surgery

The surgery will usually help your sciatic pain go away but you might feel a different pain as a result from the surgery. This pain is associated directly with the procedure and should heal quickly. You’ll be able to get out of bed after about 24 hours and after that get put on pain medications for a few weeks.

Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to take care of yourself after you get home. You’ll have to change how you sit, stand, and get up.

The activities that you’re allowed to perform will be limited, so no sports or anything else that’s too strenuous on your back.

Be on the lookout for anything irregular during your recovery process like fever or increased pain. This could be a sign of infection so it needs to be brought to your doctor’s attention right away so something can be done about it.

5. Will it Relieve Your Condition

Relieving your pain is the goal of the surgery and your surgeon will heavily work with you to ensure that it does happen. Typically removing whatever is pressing or pinching a certain nerve in your back is enough to work.

6. Cost

Depending on which surgery you get it can cost you anywhere between 20,000 to 90,000 dollars. The procedure, pre-opp and post-opp appointments, bracing, medication, and additional therapy can all be considered part of the total cost. Some, to all of this will be covered by your health insurance if you have it.

7. Ultimately it’s Your Decision

The surgery is completely voluntary unless your doctor feels like you seriously need it. For example, if you can’t control your bowels because of your condition they might push it.

You’ll be allowed to try nonsurgical procedures first if the idea of surgery doesn’t sit well with you.

Why You Should be Considering Sciatica Surgery

If you have a tingling sensation going down your leg that won’t go away, it might be time for you to try sciatica surgery. It’s a good way to get relief if other methods of treatment like medicines and physical therapy don’t work for you.

There are two types of surgery that will get suggested to you, both of which will remove whatever is pressing down on your nerve. It’s the most effective form of treatment and with it, you’ll be able to return to your regular activities and get your life back.

Sciatica is a potentially debilitating condition and the best way to handle it is with knowledge. Keep reading to find out more about treating sciatica.

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