Do I Need Surgery for My Sciatica?

Do I Need Surgery for My Sciatica?

Sciatica — a condition that develops when your sciatic nerve gets pinched — can make everyday life difficult. Moving becomes painful, and you might have other bothersome sensations, like pins and needles or weakness in the affected leg. You don’t want to live this way.

Fortunately, here at Hawai’i Pain and Spine on the Windward side of O Ľahu in Kailua, Dr. Jonathan D. Carlson and our team offer a wide range of sciatica treatment options. Dr. Carlson takes the time to understand your symptoms and to get to the root cause of your nerve issue. Then, he recommends a treatment plan specifically for you. That might include surgery, but that depends entirely on what’s going on with your spine. 

Tailoring your sciatica treatment to you

In most cases, Dr. Carlson recommends conservative treatment before exploring surgery. There are some exceptions, though. If you have an issue like a tumor that can only be resolved surgically, he recommends this option as a first-line treatment. 

Dr. Carlson uses X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to find out what’s going on with your spine and see if you should pursue surgery right away.

Generally, though, people can use other less-invasive treatments to find relief. Some people soothe their sciatica with a regimen of rest, gentle exercise, and medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants. 

If that doesn’t ease your pain, Dr. Carlson offers injection-based treatment to target the affected area. He may recommend an epidural corticosteroid injection to bring inflammation down and treat pain, for example. Or he may explore regenerative medicine treatment with you.  

Dr. Carlson usually gives these more conservative treatments three months to take effect. If you’re still in pain at that point, he can discuss surgery with you. 

What to expect with sciatica surgery

Dr. Carlson tailors your sciatica surgery to your spine. If, for example, spinal stenosis is causing pressure on your sciatic nerve and causing your pain, he may perform a laminectomy. During this procedure, he removes a portion of your lamina (bone along the back of your spinal column) to make more room in your spine and alleviate the pressure on your sciatic nerve. 

Your recovery process varies depending on the kind of sciatica surgery you need. Dr. Carlson talks with you about what to expect so you can decide if pursuing this treatment option is right for you. 


If you’re living with sciatica pain, you have options — and many of them don’t involve a surgical procedure. To work with Dr. Carlson and move toward relief,  call our office to schedule an appointment today.

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