What Do You Need to Know About Sciatica?

Sciatica is one of the conditions that are misunderstood the most. If we look at it, sciatica is a symptom of another condition that arises in the sciatic nerve. This post will talk about sciatica in detail along with its symptoms, causes, and diagnosis. Let us have a look at a brief introduction to the condition.

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Sciatica – An Overview

Sciatica is a pain in the sciatic nerve that occurs because of an injury or compression in the nerve. Besides pain, people suffering from sciatica also experience several other symptoms like tingling or numbness in the back. 

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body that starts from the hips and goes down to each. Any injury along the length of the nerve may cause sciatica. There could be several causes of sciatica and we will discuss it later in the post. 

What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Sciatica is painful and pain may be felt anywhere along the path of the nerve from the lower back to the buttocks and thigh to calf. The intensity of pain may vary. It could be a dull ache to sharp pain with a burning sensation. In some cases, there may be a feeling of electric shock or jolt. Studies have found that sciatica generally affects one side of the body. Some people may experience numbness, muscle weakness, or tingling in the leg or foot. 

In severe cases, the person may experience urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence. 

What Could Cause Sciatica?

Any condition that affects the sciatic nerve may be the cause of sciatica. Some of the common causes of Sciatica include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Growth of tumors or cysts

What Are the Risk Factors for Sciatica?

Risk factors for sciatica may include:

Spinal Injury

People with current or previous spinal injuries are at risk of developing sciatica. 


Age-related wear and tears in the spine may result in pinching of nerves. This may eventually lead to a herniated disc or other conditions that cause sciatica.


Having excess body weight can also result in the pinching of nerves which could cause sciatica. 

Occupational Activities

Some jobs require a lot of bending, heavy lifting, and awkward working positions. People engaged in such occupations have a high risk of experiencing sciatica. 

What is the Diagnosis of Sciatica?

The diagnosis of sciatica requires a physical examination along with imaging tests. During the physical examination, the healthcare service provider will ask the patient to walk on heels or toes or to stand from a squatting position. With these activities, the healthcare service provider would want to know whether the pain becomes worse, which is the case with sciatica. Imaging tests that may be ordered for confirmation include:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT Scan
  • Electromyography

What is the Treatment for Sciatica?

The treatment of sciatica depends on the severity and location. In most cases, medications and physical therapy can help improve the symptoms. In some cases, the healthcare service provider may give a shot of corticosteroid around the nerve root to help improve pain. 

Severe causes of Sciatica may demand surgery. Surgery is done to remove bone spurs or herniated discs that are pressing on the nerve. Surgical intervention is often recommended when other treatments fail to improve the condition. 

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