Just as you can get dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water, the discs between your vertebrae become thirstier as they age, but unfortunately, you can’t replenish them with a cold jug of H20.
Along with this dehydration comes thinning of the discs, so they can no longer act as your body’s shock absorbers. Throw in wear and tear that affects the tough outer shell of the discs, and you’ve got a recipe for pain and another condition — sciatica.
Dr. Benjamin Cohen is eager to help you with complex problems that cause debilitating pain, including sciatic nerve pain related to degenerative disc disease. His surgical skills are matched only by his expertise and warmth with patients. Dr. Cohen doesn’t consider you a case or set of symptoms; he sees you as an individual needing relief from pain and greater mobility.
The cause and effect of disc degeneration and sciatic nerve pain
Your sciatic nerve is a bundle of nerves emanating from five nerves emerging from your spinal cord.
You have a sciatic nerve on each side of your body, and they’re the longest and thickest of your nerves. They start in your lower back and go through your hips, buttocks, and legs, stopping at the knee before branching into other nerves in your lower legs, feet, and toes.
You can have sciatic nerve pain (sciatica) at any point within the path of your sciatic nerves.
Degenerative disc disease can cause a disc to collapse, making your vertebra unstable and putting pressure on that sciatic nerve. This pain is also known as lumbar radiculopathy. Your symptoms can include:
- Burning or shocking pain in your lower back
- Pain that continues down your leg on whichever side is affected
- Tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation
- Muscles weakness
You’re at higher risk for sciatica if you’re obese, smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, or ignore using proper form when lifting heavy things. Having weakness in your core also makes sciatica more likely.
How can my sciatica associated with disc degeneration be treated?
Dr. Cohen may initially start you with conservative treatments, such as:
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
- Electrical stimulation treatment that directs electrical pulses to muscles and nerves
If these treatments don’t provide you with enough relief, Dr. Cohen typically recommends a minimally invasive surgical procedure.
One option is removing your damaged disc and spinal fusion, where he fuses the vertebrae.
In this procedure, Dr. Cohen connects the vertebrae with a bone graft, stimulating your vertebrae to grow toward the graft. The graft material can be real living bone cells, or Dr. Cohen can place a small cage between the vertebrae containing biochemicals that stimulate bone growth. He also uses metal screws and plates to stabilize your vertebrae while your bones fuse.
Another procedure Dr. Cohen may recommend involves removing and replacing your damaged disc with a sturdy artificial one. Dr. Cohen likes this solution because it allows for better spinal movement.
Dr. Cohen favors minimally invasive surgical techniques because they require just a few small incisions instead of a single long one. This surgery leads to faster healing and causes less pain, bleeding, and scarring. With your body going through less trauma, you can recover and return to your normal life more quickly.
Call our Garden City office to schedule an in-office or virtual appointment at 516-246-5008 or contact us online through our website. Better mobility and relief from sciatica pain are within reach with the right treatment.