If you are experiencing pain in the back that radiates into the leg, or numbness and/or weakness in the leg, the diagnosis could be a sciatica.

Schoen Clinic specialises in the treatment of sciatica. Whether you are seeking an exact diagnosis, conservative treatment or surgery–you will benefit from the experience of our spinal specialists.

How does sciatica develop?

The lumbar spine has a central canal through which the nerve roots and the cauda equina pass. To each side of the canal, spinal nerve roots branch out at every level. The cauda equina and nerve roots are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and are all contained within a membrane (dura).

There are five bones (vertebra) in the lumbar spine (lower back). In between each bone is an intervertebral disc, which acts as both a spacer and a shock absorber. Over time, as degeneration (wear and tear) occurs, the intervertebral disc can lose its flexibility, elasticity and shock absorbing characteristics.

Symptoms of sciatica

Symptoms also associated with sciatica include:

  • Altered sensation
  • Pins and needles
  • Burning
  • Numbness or even weakness of the muscles in the leg that the nerve supplies
  • Symptoms are typically only felt on one side of the body

Causes of sciatica

Sciatica is most commonly caused by a disc herniation/protrusion. It can also occur as a result of disc degeneration. When a disc degenerates, the tough fibrous wall of the disc can weaken and split. No longer able to contain the gel-like substance in the centre, the split disc releases inflammatory proteins (herniation), which can cause pain when it comes into contact with a nerve (sciatica).

Onsite diagnostic imaging and expertise

It is important to get the right treatment at the right time. Our experienced specialists and modern equipment are the best basis for this. We can arrange an urgent assessment and imaging to reach a diagnosis.

Searching for the cause of the pain

Pain perception, reflexes, numbness, and muscular weakness usually indicate to your consultant where the herniated disc is located and what kind of pressure it exerts on the adjacent nerves. Imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), digital X-rays and possibly computed tomography (CT) can give us an exact picture of the bone structure of your vertebrae, where exactly your herniated disc is, and how extensive it is. If the cause of your pain cannot be determined immediately, additional examinations may be needed.