Resulting from pain that radiates along the longest nerve in the human body, the very nature of sciatic-related pain makes it a difficult condition to diagnose and understand. Despite being a fairly common source of pain that originates from the back area, there are many misconceptions about sciatica, likely due to the fact that symptoms can vary greatly from mildly irritating to debilitating.
1. Sciatica Isn’t a ‘Condition’
Even though it’s common to hear people say they have “sciatica,” it’s not a medical condition akin to scoliosis or degenerative disc disease. It’s a collective set of symptoms caused by some type of pressure on the sciatic nerve. Indications of sciatica may include:
- Mild lower back pain
- Pain in legs, hips, or feet
- “Pins-and-needles” sensations
- Discomfort when standing or sitting
2. Only Certain Conditions Cause Sciatica
Running from the lower back to the legs, the sciatic nerve can be affected by many conditions. While a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, symptoms can also stem from:
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal tumors
- Bone spurs
3. Leg Pain Without Back Pain Isn’t Sciatica
While rare, leg pain may be the only noticeable symptom resulting from sciatic nerve compression. When back pain is experienced with sciatica symptoms, it’s often mild and intermittent.
4. Physical Activity Should Be Avoided
Some initial rest when symptoms appear is fine. Long-term inactivity, however, can weaken muscles that support the spine and contribute to increased discomfort.
5. Surgery Is Often Necessary
Non-surgical back treatments are recommended for most patients. Surgery only becomes an option if symptoms linger, become more severe, or result in loss of function.
Sciatica is typically diagnosed by a Beverly Hills spine surgeon through a combination of image testing and efforts to pinpoint the origin of symptoms. Treatments often include the application of heat or ice, the use of anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica and would like to learn more about treatment options, look to the trusted spine surgeons at The Spine Institute Center in Beverly Hills. Along with conservative options, our spine specialists can discuss surgical options like spinal decompression surgery, which may provide the pain relief you desire. Call (310) 828-7757 today for more information.