"Sciatica – diagnosis, treatment and recovery"

published on 9 Nov, 2021


Sciatica is a common affliction that causes discomfort and pain in everyday life. It is nothing else but a pain located in the sciatic nerve. Its symptoms are usually easy to recognize, and treatment does not require prolonged procedures or surgeries. Find out more about sciatica, how it is diagnosed, treated and whether the full recovery is possible.

Cause of sciatica

Sciatica – diagnosis and causes

Sciatica is sometimes described by patients as back pain because the nerve is located in the lower back, and it branches through the hips, down the buttocks and both legs. When the affliction starts, it usually affects only one side of the body. Sciatica pain is not of the same intensity for every patient. Some of them suffer from a severe, excruciating feeling of pain, while for others it is just a slight nuisance.

There are two major causes of sciatica – herniated disk in the spine or bone spur. The first case, herniated disk, means that when the nucleus (a soft inside of the spine) makes a crack through the annulus (tough exterior structure), it pushes outside and compresses the nerve. The other common cause, bone spur, occurs when there is an overgrowth of bone structure on vertebrae. 

There might also be different causes of sciatica pain, such as tumor or disease damage caused by, e.g., diabetes. However, in the majority of cases, it’s either a bone spur or herniated disk that causes the pain. Whatever the reason, the affliction occurs as a result of the pressure on the sciatica nerve.

When sciatica pain gets worse, it’s high time to make an appointment. A doctor can order additional tests, but it’s rather uncommon. Usually, sciatica becomes less severe, and the symptoms go away with time. However, if they are rather getting worse, it means that other ways of treatment should be implemented.

The first step is a physical examination. A doctor might ask a patient to do some exercises, like lifting legs when lying on the back or walking on toes. Such activities make the sciatica pain worse, which helps to diagnose the nerve pain. An additional sciatica test usually means an X-ray or other imaging test to see if the spine structure has any abnormalities.

Cause of sciatica

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Common symptoms of sciatica

In the majority of cases, symptoms are easy to recognize and lead to the right diagnosis. The most obvious sign is a feeling of pain that radiates from the lower part of the spine down the buttock and further to the leg, down the back of the thigh and even the calf. It causes discomfort and sometimes might lead to sleepless nights.

The intensity of pain, as was already explained, might differ. It might be a burning feeling or a bearable tension. Some patients describe sciatica pain as en electric shock. It usually afflicts one side of the body and might get worse after sitting in one position for a long period. Common symptoms are also the feeling of tingling, numbness, or weak muscles. Sometimes the pain is in one leg and numbness in the other.


Sciatica treatment is an easy process and very rarely requires surgical intervention. In the case of numerous patients, the pain goes away in time. However, when the pain is severe, it occurred as a result of an accident, or the patient cannot control their bladder or bowels, medical care is a necessity. 

There are various ways of treatment for sciatica. One of them are medications or even steroid injections. Often the doctors prescribe sciatica physiotherapy. The right set of exercises helps to ease the pain and prevent injury in the future.

Sciatica might occur regardless of other injuries or even lifestyle. Among risk factors, the most common are age, obesity, occupation, sitting position, and diseases such as diabetes.  

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