If you have pain that starts in your lower back and travels down the back of your leg, you may have sciatica. Dr. Carlos Diaz is a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who is the director at Spine, Sport & Physical Medicine Center in Sarasota, Florida. He has extensive experience in treating sciatica and the underlying conditions that cause this painful condition. Call today for an appointment or book you visit online.
Sciatica is not a condition, but a term used to describe symptoms that signal irritation of your sciatic nerve. It’s the largest single nerve in your body and runs from each side of your lower spine through the buttock area and down the back of each thigh to your feet.
Also known as lumbar radiculopathy, sciatica usually occurs in only one leg but does sometimes happen in both and may include:
It can also cause numbness, a tingling sensation, and weakness that starts in your lower back and radiates down to your buttocks, hips, and legs. The pain can come and go or may remain constant over time and can occur at any point along the sciatic nerve, so you might experience symptoms in your hip area but not your lower leg.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated. This is typically caused by degenerative changes in the spine due to the natural aging process, such as a herniated disc or bone spur.
Other potential causes of sciatica include:
Dr. Diaz first performs a detailed exam, which may include X-rays to help determine what is causing your symptoms. He is also likely to check your muscle strength and reflexes, which may include asking you to:
Once he’s determined the cause of your symptoms, Dr. Diaz’s treatment recommendations may include physical therapy, spinal manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and other treatments to relieve your pain and resolve your sciatica symptoms.