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How to Recognize When You Need Sciatica Treatment

sciatica treatmentRecognize need for sciatica treatment photo by Esther Max / CC 2.0

There are countless ways you can injure your back and countless symptoms associated with each of them. Throw in pain that extends to other parts of the body, like arms, legs, buttocks, and hips, and it’s no wonder it can be difficult to diagnose a back problem. This is especially true when trying to figure out if you need sciatica treatment.

“Sciatica is not a diagnosis but a description of symptoms,” said the New York Times. “Anything that places pressure on one or more of the lumbar nerve roots can cause pain in parts or all of the sciatic nerve.” Sciatica pain can occur anywhere along the nerve and can be very different for different people, but there are some common symptoms to look for. If you’re not sure if you need sciatica treatment, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the signs.

Tingling in the leg

Depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression, you may feel tingling, a pins-and-needles-like sensation, or a prickly feeling in one or both legs, which can also travel down into the feet and toes. Or, you may feel a burning sensation in those same areas.


Sciatica pain can also present as numbness in one or more of the areas along the sciatic nerve. If you can’t feel part of the affected area or if it feels like your leg, foot, or toes are on ice, your doctor will want to see you quickly.

Leg pain that feels like a pulled muscle

If you’ve ever pulled a muscle, you know what that tightness and acute pain can feel like. For many people, that’s how sciatica first presents. Combine that with the fact that the hamstring is the most commonly pulled muscle, and it’s not surprising that sciatica can be misdiagnosed as a pulled hammy.

If you’ve been resting, icing, and elevating your leg, thinking that this protocol will heal your pulled muscle, but are not improving, you may need to see a back doctor. If you were diagnosed with sciatica and aren’t improving in a matter of days or weeks, it’s possible that you need a more aggressive sciatica treatment.

Radiating pain in the leg

“The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb,” said eMedicineHealth. Many people suffering from sciatica experience low back pain “combined with a pain radiating through the buttock and down one leg. “The leg pain often goes past the knee and may go to the foot. Weakness in the leg muscles and limping can be a sign of sciatica.”

Pain that worsens at certain times

Sciatica is unique in that it may get worse at night, and also “After standing or sitting for long periods of time; when sneezing, coughing, or laughing; and after bending backwards or walking more than 50–100 yards, particularly if it is caused by spinal stenosis,” said the New York Times.

How sciatica is diagnosed

Because sciatica can masquerade as other injuries, your doctor will carefully examine you to ensure that you get the right treatment. This typically involves an oral history and a physical examination. During the exam, you can expect the doctor to do neurological tests including “the straight leg raising test or Lasègue’s sign” and the crossed straight leg raising test, according to the US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health (NCBI), both of which are used to check for underlying herniated discs; herniated discs are the No. 1 cause of sciatica. “In about 90% of cases sciatica is caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression, but lumbar stenosis and (less often) tumors are possible causes,” they said.

With the right sciatica treatment, pain usually subsides within a few weeks. If within four to six weeks you are still suffering, your doctor may change your protocol to include epidural steroid injections, or recommend minimally invasive surgery. Today’s minimally invasive procedures mean treating chronic back pain and conditions like sciatica is easier than ever.

For more information, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments for chronic back pain.

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Vanessa Blair
2 years ago

My brother rarely sits at work because he’s busy and now he’s in pain because of his feet. It was explained here that sciatica can be identified through a lot of symptoms like numbness and leg pain. Moreover, it’s advisable to go to experts for sciatica treatment.

2 years ago

Many of my friends got diagnoised with sciatica because of slipped disc injuries… one of my friend got it when she was pregnaut. They went for many treatments and mri, went for chiropractors. Some of them got it completely fixed. Some got taught by the chiropractor to learn how to strengthen their back muscles and stretch the legs. I personally believe that responsibility for own wellhealth is the key to a healthy lifestyle. My dearest friend got interviewed by an authority spine website where she shared her lifelong battle with sciatica and life. Hope this will inspire you.

Raymond Cooper
2 years ago

I’ve been having some radiating pain in one of my legs when I walk, and I’m not sure why. I noticed that you mentioned that this could be sciatica caused by spinal stenosis. Would you recommend I see a doctor as soon as possible then to determine what needs to be done to fix this? Or will it go away on its own?

2 years ago

Bless you! I have been suffering from sciatica for 3 years now and even though I try to minimize things that may aggravate it more, it just keeps coming back 🙁 Those stories really gave great insight into sciatical. I just want to avoid surgery because I guess I’m just in denial as to how serious it is. I still believe I can eliminate my sciatica using natural methods like the stretches in those videos and also some remedies. I’ve been doing some stretches and exercises I found at the advice offered has helped to minimize the pain and… Read more »

Stella Mary
1 year ago

Very informative post. The methods and symptoms added here to identify the sciatica are very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

1 year ago

I have issues with sciatica for the past 4 years. It all stated when I was working in the delivery service. I had some big and heavy packages to carry. I started using cremes and they helped a lot. I also found this article about sciatica pain. This article was helpful.
Pain still comes but not so often so I’m pretty happy about my condition now

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