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Ask the Expert, Dr. Anthony Virella What exactly is “Sciatica”?

sciaticaFor those with chronic back pain not all of the pain remains in the back.  Often, the pain can radiate into different extremities.  One of the most common forms of this radiating pain is what is known as Sciatica.  Sciatica is classified as an intense shooting pain or burning that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg and hip that can be persistent or intermittent.  This can also be accompanied by weakness or numbness in the affected leg and is often aggravated by strenuous activity or prolonged periods of sitting or standing.  Those who suffer from Sciatica often find it difficult to climb stairs, walk long distances or get a good night’s sleep.   However, many people are unaware that Sciatica is not actually a condition but rather a symptom of an underlying spinal condition.

At each level of the spine there are nerve roots that exit on either side and control a motor or neurological function. Compression or irritation to these nerves may manifest as a variety of symptoms depending on the vertebrae in the spine that is affected.  Sciatica is often a symptom of a herniated disc of the lumbar spine, typically the L4-L5 or L5-S1 vertebrae.

Luckily, there are several effective treatment options to relieve Sciatic pain, including Minimally Invasive Spine Procedures.  These procedures utilize a very small incision to decompress the nerves and relieve the symptoms.   Furthermore, the use of this small incision eliminates unnecessary dissection of muscle and tissue and substantially reduces recovery time.

For those suffering from Sciatica, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible as this condition is an sciatica pain obvious sign of nerve injury in the spine.  If treated early enough, the pain will subside with no lasting nerve damage.  However, if left untreated, irreversible damage to the nerve can occur causing lasting pain and potential loss of sensation and certain functions of the leg. Why wait? Stop living with pain. Give Dr. Virella a call today!

Dr. Anthony Virella is a Board-Certified, Fellowship trained Neurological Spine Surgeon with advanced training in the management of complex spinal disorders. He is one of the highest ranked neurosurgeons in Southern California and was recently voted, “top 10,” by He has offices located in Westlake Village, Simi Valley and Valencia.


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