Although we all understand that the body is interconnected, sciatica may at first seem unusual. Why does this pain condition have symptoms that include both lower back pain and pain in the back of the legs? The answer is actually simple: the sciatic nerve stretches from the lumbar spine to the legs. The condition arises when the nerve is impinged or aggravated in the back.
“When any of the nerve roots in the lower back are irritated,” explains Spine-health CEO Stephanie Burke, “pain travels … down to the buttock, and sometimes down the back of the leg.”
Is it really sciatic nerve pain?
According to Burke, people frequently think that their leg pain is sciatica when it is actually something else. She mentions several other conditions that have similar symptoms. When considering sciatica, Weston residents should be aware of these related conditions to understand the importance of an accurate diagnosis:
• Spinal joint issues, often arthritic conditions, may deliver referred pain to the legs. To reduce symptoms and improve functionality when you have arthritis, treatments are nonsurgical and sometimes incorporate anti-inflammatory medication – although many patients and doctors are moving toward anti-inflammatory diets instead.
• Sacroiliac joint dysfunction also tends to bring about hurtful sensations in the lumbar spine area and legs. If the sacroiliac joint is either overused or underused, you may feel aching, burning, or numbness in your legs. This condition is also treated nonsurgically, with therapies intended to help resume healthy movement of the joint.
• Piriformis syndrome is actually also a form of sciatic nerve pain, though it is not technically sciatica. This condition is properly diagnosed if the piriformis muscle aggravates the nerve, typically leading to symptoms that spread down the leg. To treat this syndrome, doctors may recommend physical therapy, along with diets and/or drugs to reduce the inflammation.
Burke stresses that anyone with leg, buttock, and/or lower back pain that they think could be sciatica should always seek the professional expertise of a doctor.
“While rare,” she explains, “sciatica-like pain may be caused by serious medical conditions that need immediate treatment.”
For instance, what seems to be sciatica could actually be a tumor, an infection, or cauda equina syndrome.
For those experiencing radiating pain or any other type of persistent or intermittent discomfort, doctors can help determine exactly what the problem is so that your treatments correctly fit your condition.
If you think you might have sciatica, Weston Medical can help. To get relief and prevent permanent damage, contact us now!