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What is sciatica?

What is sciatica?


Sciatic is a term that is loosely used to mean low back pain which radiates to the legs, but what is the exact definition of sciatica? What causes sciatica? And how is sciatica treated?

Here will try to answer some of these basic questions and shed some light on this often misused term…

 

 

What does it mean to have sciatica?

 

While you're right to think that sciatica is low back pain that radiates to the leg, you might be surprised to find out that sciatica refers to a specific nerve - the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is made up of nerve roots that originate from the spinal cord and travel down the length of the leg before branching off into smaller nerves. But not all leg pain that radiates to the legs comes from the sciatic nerve.



What causes sciatic pain?

 

The sciatic nerve can be pinched or irritated by nearby structures in the spine. This could be due to a herniated disc, an overgrowth of the facet joints or bones in the back, or even by a muscle called the piriformis muscle.



How do I know if I have sciatica?

 

While the hallmark of sciatica is low back pain which radiates to the leg, sometimes it can show up as just leg pain. The pain can be associated with numbness and tingling in the leg or foot as well as leg weakness. Muscle cramps in the leg are also common. Typically, there is only one leg involved but more severe cases can involve both legs.



How is sciatic pain treated?


Sometimes sciatica resolves on its own since our bodies are capable of healing themselves. Physical therapy can play a large role in overall strengthening to prevent sciatica from getting worse. Sometimes an injection can be done in the back to alleviate some of the nerve irritation and inflammation at the source of the pain.

 

 

If you experience sciatica or low back pain, call Pain Medicine Group today to get a comprehensive evaluation and a treatment plan catered to your needs.

Pain Medicine Group with offices in Orlando and Sarasota
(407) 332-1300

 

 

Author
Mauna Radahd, MD

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