Treating pain caused by sciatica and brachialgia

Dramatic and obvious changes take place to the spine as we get older and these frequently cause problems. The vertebrae of the spine are separated by intervertebral discs that act as both spacing devices and shock absorbers and they are attached firmly to the vertebrae they join together. As we age the structure of the discs deteriorate and this frequently results in the disc bulging or splitting. This is called a herniated disc. Disc herniations can happen at any level in the spine, but they usually occur at the lower end of the lumbar spine or the lower levels of the cervical spine.

Disc herniation can cause pain in the back or neck but more often than not extreme pain is felt in the leg or arm due to the bulging disc pressing on a nerve root. When the nerve pain is felt in the leg as a result of lumbar disc herniation this is called sciatica. When the nerve pain is felt in the arm as a result of cervical disc herniation this is called brachialgia. Nerve root pain is often excruciating but unfortunately it does not usually respond well to normal painkillers. However, the pain can be alleviated by image guided spinal steroid injections. This treatment involves very accurately injecting steroids around the affected nerve root, guided by continuous x-ray or by CT scanning. 

Dr Nigel Kellow, Consultant Interventional Spine and Pain Physician says: “Steroid infiltration around nerves is usually very effective at controlling pain from sciatica or brachialgia and this treatment helps many people to avoid spinal surgery. “

Relating either to the cervix (the neck of the womb) or to the cervical vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine). Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for computed tomography, a scan that generates a series of cross-sectional x-ray images Full medical glossary
When part of an organ pushes through the wall of the body cavity that normally holds it. Hernias can develop in many different parts of the body. Full medical glossary
An abnormal protrusion (sticking out) of tissue Full medical glossary
One of the tough pads of fibre and cartilage that separate the vertebrae and act as cushions to absorb forces on the spine. Full medical glossary
The part of the back between the lowest ribs and the top of the pelvis. Full medical glossary
Bundle of fibres that carries information in the form of electrical impulses. Full medical glossary
Bundles of fibres that carry information in the form of electrical impulses. Full medical glossary
Pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which is the main nerve in each leg and the largest nerve in the body. Full medical glossary
Compounds with a common basic structure, which occur naturally in the body. The term may also refer to man-made drugs administered because they act like hormones. Full medical glossary
Affecting the vertebrae, the bones of the spine, or the joints between them Full medical glossary