Published: Aug. 26, 2010
Updated: Aug. 26, 2010
Duke Medical Minutes are produced by local sports radio affiliates, and allow Duke specialists to give a brief snapshot into health offerings at Duke.
In this episode, Joe Minchew, MD, discusses sciatica and the scope of care offered by Duke Spine Center.
Announcer: We’re joined by Joe Minchew, clinical associate professor, Orthopaedics, Duke University Health System.
We’re talking about sciatica today. I’m the typical layman that’s just watching TV and I’ll hear that term. What does it mean specifically?
Minchew: Well, Joe, sciatica is generally pain that will start in the back or buttock and run down the leg, usually below the knee. It is often caused by pressure on a nerve in the lower back. Most patients will respond to non-surgical care.
Announcer: Now, if that doesn’t work, what’s the next step?
Minchew: Often a next step would be something like an epidural steroid injection or a nerve block where we, under x-ray control, inject cortisone near the inflamed nerve.
Announcer: Is there a step beyond that if that doesn’t work?
Minchew: Well, if you are one of the unfortunate 10 percent that doesn’t respond to those treatments, then fortunately there’s a minimally invasive microsurgical procedure -- either a microdiscectomy in the younger group, or a microdecompression in the older group -- which is effective in 90 percent of patients.
Announcer: As far as surgery goes, what’s the usual downtime?
Minchew: Well, most folks are able to get away with just an overnight stay in the hospital.