Sciatica Specialist

David Newell, MD

Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Bellevue, WA

If you’re experiencing radiating pain from your lower back into your leg, you might have sciatica. David Newell, MD is an experienced neurosurgeon who provides innovative treatments for neuropathic conditions like sciatica. Call Dr. Newell’s Seattle clinic in Washington or schedule an appointment online to find relief from your sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica Q & A

What is sciatica?

Sciatica describes a variety of symptoms affecting your sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in your body. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower portion of your spinal cord and runs through your buttocks, down your leg, into your foot.

When your sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed, uncomfortable symptoms, particularly pain, can arise anywhere along its path from your lower back to the back of your calf.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica pain is typically the result of a compressed sciatic nerve, often caused by a bone spur on your vertebrae or a herniated disc in your spine that puts pressure on the nerve.

Several factors increase your risk of developing sciatica, including:

  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes, or other medical conditions

In rare cases, sciatica is caused by a tumor pressing on the sciatic nerve.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatica pain can vary. It ranges from mild to severe, can be dull or sharp, and may even feel like an electric shock. A compressed sciatic nerve can also cause numbness, tingling, or pain that radiates out from your lower back. In some cases, specific actions like sneezing or coughing can make your symptoms worse. Sciatica typically only affects one side of your body.

How is sciatica diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose sciatica, Dr. Newell performs a comprehensive examination that includes checking your reflexes and muscle strength. This exam might involve walking on your heels or toes, lifting your legs one at a time while lying on your back, or rising from a squatting position.

In addition to a physical examination, Dr. Newell might recommend screenings such as:

  • X-rays: to look for bone spurs
  • MRI: to check your soft tissue and bones
  • CT scan: with contrast dye to evaluate your spinal cord and nerves
  • Electromyography (EMG): to test for nerve compression

Based on the cause of your diagnosis and symptoms, Dr. Newell creates a customized treatment strategy. In some cases, noninvasive methods like medication and physical therapy can improve your condition.

If your sciatic nerve compression causes severe symptoms like compromised bladder or bowel control, significant weakness, or pain that doesn’t improve with other therapies, you might benefit from a minimally invasive surgical procedure.

Dr. Newell offers microsurgery to relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve. This procedure creates space in the spinal canal by placing implants between your vertebrae.

If you’re suffering from sciatica pain, call David Newell, MD or schedule an appointment online.