How do I know if I have Sciatica?
Sciatica is characterized by pain in the lower back that radiates down one or both legs. The pain is described as dull, achy, sharp, like “pins and needles” or similar to electric shocks. Other symptoms associated with sciatica include burning, numbness and tingling sensations. Sciatic nerve pain varies in intensity from mild to severe, and frequency may range from occasional to constant. The onset is generally gradual and not necessarily associated with a previous event.
Sciatica is also known as radiating or referred pain, neuropathy, or neuralgia.
What causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is usually caused by sciatic nerve compression. The nerve compression can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common reasons: lumbar spine subluxation (misaligned vertebrae), herniated or bulging discs, pregnancy, childbirth, tumors, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes and constipation.
Another common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscles that are located in the lower part of the spine which connect to the thigh bone and assist in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is prone to injury from a slip and fall incident, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. These situations can cause cramping and spasms to occur in the piriformis muscle resulting in a pinched sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain. Sciatic nerve compression may result in the loss of feeling (sensory loss), paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles (monoplegia), and insomnia.
How do you diagnose Sciatica?
Here at PC Medical Centers, we regularly treat patients with sciatica. Since there are many disorders that cause sciatica, we will determine what is the root cause of your sciatica by taking a thorough patient history during your physical and neurological exam. In some instances, diagnostic testing such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan and/or electrodiagnostic test (electromyography) might be necessary.