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Sciatica: Detection and Confirmation by New Method

Satishchandra Gore, MS, FABMISS,1 Sunil Nadkarni, MS, FRCS, MCh2

1Prime Surgical Center, Pune, India 2Mangeshkar Hospital, Pune, India


We need to overcome limitations of present assessment and also integrate newer research in our work about sciatica. Inflammation induces changes in the DRG and nerve root.It sensitizes the axons. Nociceptor is a unique axon. It is pseudo unipolar: both its ends, central and peripheral, behave in similar fashion. The nerve in periphery which carries these axons may selectively become sensitive to mechanical pressure--"mechanosensitized," as we coin the phrase. Many pain questionnaires are used and are effective in identifying neuropathic pain solely on basis of descriptors but they do not directly physically correlate nerve root and pain. A thorough neurological evaluation is always needed. Physical examination is not direct pain assessment but testing mobility of nerve root and its effect on pain generation. There is a dogmatic dominance of dermatomes in assessment of leg pain. They are unreliable. Images may not correlate with symptoms and pathology in about 28% of cases. Electrophysiology may be normal in purely inflamed nerve root. Palpation may help in such inflammatory setting to refine our assessment further.

Confirmation of sciatica is done by selective nerve root block (SNRB) today but it is fraught with several complications and needs elaborate inpatient and operating room set up. We have used the unique property of the pseudo unipolar axon that both its ends have similar functional properties and so inject along its peripheral end sodium channel blockers to block the basic cause of the mechanosensitization namely upregulated sodium channels in the root or DRG.

Thus using palpation we may be able to detect symptomatic nerve in stage of inflammation and with distal end injection, along same inflamed nerve we may be able to abolish and so confirm sciatica. Discussions of sciatica pain diagnosis tend to immediately shift and centre on the affected disc rather than the nerve. Theoretically it may be possible to detect the affected nerve by palpating the nerve and relieve pain moment we desensitize the nerve.

sciatica, mechano sensitization, Inflammation, chemical, stretch sensitivity, pseudo unipolar axon, selective nerve root block, distal block, palpation of nerve
Volume 8 Article 15 - Endoscopic & Percutaneous Special Issue