Is it common to develop sciatica after back surgery?
Sciatica is back and leg pain produced by a pinched nerve in the back. Unfortunately sciatica may recur after back surgery, but it is not very common. The cause of it depends on your original back problem and what type of back surgery you had. For example after:
Lumbar discectomy – The disc is not as strong after back surgery and it is possible for new piece of disc to break off, herniate and pinch the sciatic nerve. This is called recurrent disk herniation. Other times the sciatica may be caused by scar tissue. This is less common with endoscopic surgery.
Lumbar laminectomy – Stenosis (tightness) may develop from new bone or ligament formation or the development of instability and slip of the spine called spondylolithesis.
Lumbar fusion – the instrumentation may break or fusion fail producing instability, slip and sciatica. Alternatively the spinal disease may worsen at the level above or below the fusion (that is at L3-4 or L5-S1 level after L4-5 fusion) due to increased strain to the surrounding spine due to the immobile fused segment or just from worsening degenerative spine disease. This is called adjacent segment disease.
I would recommend you see a spine surgeon. You will likely require new X-rays and MRI of the lumbar spine. Make sure you have the MRI with and without contrast to rule out scar tissue. For more information please contact Executive Spine Surgery. Good Luck!