What is sciatica (lumbar radiculopathy)?

Sciatica is caused by a compression or pinching of the nerves in the lower back, resulting in a sharp pain that runs down the leg from the lower back. Though not a medical condition in and of itself, it is a common symptom of various orthopedic disorders. 



What does sciatica feel like?

Sciatica most often results in a distinctive tingling sensation in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Some patients may also report a numbness in the leg or foot.


What causes Sciatica?

A number of orthopedic conditions can cause sciatica, including lumbar disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and pirformis syndrome.


Your physician diagnoses lumbar radiculopathy or sciatica based on symptoms, medical history, and a complete physical examination of the lower back (lumbar spine). A confirmed diagnosis can be made based on the findings from imaging studies such as X-ray, CT (contrast tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), nerve conduction studies, and electromyography. 


If you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica, you should consult a specialist to receive an accurate diagnosis. Your specialist will obtain a comprehensive medical history, perform a physical exam, and may conduct further testing in the form of an EMG, MRI, or X-rays.

Based on this diagnosis, there are a number of non-surgical treatment options available. Many of our patients experience relief from their sciatica pain through a combination of physical therapy, medication, and cortisone injections (such as trigger point, piriformis, sacroiliac joint, and lumbar epidural steroid injections).


In certain cases, if the patient has experienced severe, potentially irreversible nerve damage, they will be referred to a spine surgeon.


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