Do I Have Sciatica?

Sciatica symptoms can severely affect your life, causing pain and making it difficult to get around. Simple tasks you once took for granted, like walking your dog or preparing a meal, can become almost impossible. If you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica, or you think your back or leg pain may be related to this condition, learning about the specific symptoms of sciatica can be helpful. Whether you’re unsure what your diagnosis means or want to be as informed as possible when you see your doctor, the following overview can make you a more engaged and confident patient.

Sciatica Symptoms

The term sciatica describes the symptoms caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. The longest, thickest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve, originates in the lower back and travels the length of the legs. Sciatica symptoms occur when a spine condition caused by aging or injury, such as a bulging or herniated disc, progresses to the point that it places pressure on this nerve.

Since this nerve sends motor and sensory signals to much of the lower body, movement is often affected in addition to any discomfort experienced. The symptoms can be experienced in the lower back, buttocks, hips, backs of the legs, and feet. 

Many spine conditions may manifest similar symptoms, so you might wonder, how can you tell the difference? Although the only way to get an official diagnosis is by seeing a doctor, some telltale signs may point to sciatica. Individuals experiencing these symptoms may have sciatica:

  • Shooting pains
  • Pain worsens with movement
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Limping

Ultimately, the only true way to get a sciatica diagnosis is by visiting a doctor and going through medical imaging such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. These forms of imaging will allow your doctor to take a closer look at your spine. 

Treatment Methods for Sciatica

If imaging tests reveal that you have sciatica, a few treatment paths may be recommended. First, unless your sciatica is far-developed and severe, your doctor will likely suggest you begin with conservative treatments and therapies. Most of these treatments will reduce the pain you experience due to your condition. This can include over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or other medications prescribed by your doctor. If these methods are ineffective, you may be a candidate for surgery.

At BEST Health System, we believe in a minimally invasive approach to surgery. This means a shorter recovery time as well as a smaller incision. Are you interested in learning more about surgery at BEST Health System? Contact our team today.