Tag Archives: sciatic nerve

The Skinny on Sciatica

Sciatica (or sciatica-like) pain affects millions of Americans. It is often misunderstood, so we wanted to take a look at the facts:

  • Sciatica is not an official “condition”, but rather a term that describes a collection of symptoms related to irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
  • The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy.
  • Sciatica doesn’t present the same way in everyone. Many people have different symptoms and different degrees of pain (mildly irritating to severely debilitating). For example, when the L5 vertebrae is pinched, the sufferer will often feel numbness of the foot.
  • Common symptoms include: a sensation of burning or tingling in the leg or hip, weakness and a harsh, continuous pain on one side of the lower body.
  • Conditions that may lead to sciatica include: spinal problems such as stenosis, an abnormal gait, spondylolisthesis, tumors, herniated discs, pressure from pregnancy or excess weight, or nerve trauma or injury.
  • The sciatic nerves are the longest in the body spanning from the lower back all the way down to the bottom of the leg on each side.
  • Sciatica can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes other back problems such as sacroiliac joint pain is misdiagnosed as sciatica because they have similar symptoms. Proper diagnosis is difficult, but essential for effective treatment.
  • Sciatica is best treated non-invasively and not usually with too many medications until physiotherapy or another type of therapy is tried first. Surgery is necessary in some cases when severe sciatica is definitively identified and cannot be helped by other approaches.
  • Regular exercise and a healthy diet may help decrease your chances of developing problems with your sciatic nerve as a healthy lifestyle promotes better overall health.
  • If you’re not in too much pain, exercise can actually help ease the discomfort of sciatica pain in the short term. A sedentary life can contribute to back problems.
  • While it is most often caused by a problem with the discs, sciatica can also be non-structural or idiopathic by nature. Sometimes psychoemotional factors come into play during the healing process.

That concludes our look at sciatica. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board-certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365 with any medical concerns you may have!