Are you suffering from severe pain in your spine that travels all the way down to the back of your leg?  If you’re experiencing persistent pain, there is a possibility you’re suffering from sciatica. This You won’t know for sure until a proper diagnosis has been carried out. In order to diagnose the cause of your pain, your doctor will go through your medical history, including any medications you take or have taken in the past, to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. You may also have to go through a neurological and physical examination, as symptoms of sciatica may be similar to other medical problems.
Your doctor may ask you to point out the distribution and intensity of your pain on a chart in order to better understand the problem correctly. Your physician may discover the accurate location of pain by observing your range of motion. Your muscle strength and reflexes could also be checked using a few physical movement tests. For an accurate diagnosis, other tests such as an MRI, CT scan or X-rays may also need to be carried out.


The type of tests to be conducted differs from individual to individual and also on the seriousness of pain experienced. Sciatica pain is felt from low back region to the area behind the thigh, and radiates to below the knee. The seriousness of sciatic discomfort can be so severe that people often believe that it has resulted due to a specific large trauma, whereas it is actually a cumulative result of multiple small trauma incidents.


The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body; it commences at the lumbar spinal cord and extends through the buttocks and down the legs. It is the pain on lower extremities that results from irritation of sciatic nerve and is called sciatic pain.  It is tricky to diagnose sciatica because there may be many medical conditions which can cause this kind of pain.

For instance lifting heavy objects or an injury could cause pain in your back, thigh or legs. Therefore, it is important to find the exact cause of pain in order to avoid a wrong diagnosis. Unlike other medical problems where symptoms are persistent, with sciatica they disappear and reappear often and change as well. Patients may experience numbness in their leg that fluctuates from mild to severe pain within a matter of days.Man have pain from the back pain.


Common causes of sciatica pain

Sciatica pain may be caused by situations not related to the lumbar disc, and even bad posture may lead to pain similar to sciatica. Sciatica normally results because of pressure exerted by the lumber disc on the sciatic nerve. Any type of irritation on the sciatic nerve can create sciatica pain. In fact, most causes of sciatica could be attributed to irritation of the sciatica nerve by infection, tumours, internal bleeding or excessive pressure exerted by a bone. Research has shown that a slipped disc is also a common cause of sciatica wherein excessive pain arises due to pressure on the sciatic nerve by a dislodged disc.



Radiculopathy is a type of sciatica wherein a spinal disc has bulged from its original position and is compressing the radicular nerve in the lower back. The precise origin of sciatica remains unknown, though it is believed to involve slipped discs, while the pain is not restricted solely to the back. Studies have revealed that sciatica is a non-specific term used to describe any pain stemming downward from the lower hips and back down the leg. Transversely, if you experience pain in your knee specifically, it would not be proper to as attribute it to sciatica.


Sciatica due to piriformis syndrome

If sciatica is caused due to swelling in a disc, surgery would be the recommended treatment. This is why most doctors aim at eliminating back pain before starting treatment. When the pain is caused due to a difference in the length of your legs, it is recommended to use heel lifts in your shoes to even out the amount of pressure on your back, knees and heels.


Research has shown that a pinched nerve in the pelvis, known as piriformis syndrome, caused leg pain in a large number of patients whose cause of pain could not be diagnosed with an MRI scan. These were patients who could not be treated with surgery successfully. This syndrome is very difficult to diagnose. Studies also revealed that neurography could be used for imaging the sciatic nerve accurately in order to correctly diagnose and treat sciatic pain that is not caused by damaged or herniated discs.


Procedures used in physical examinations to diagnose sciatica

The patient is asked to lie down on an examination bed facing upward. His affected leg is raised to different heights to determine the point of compression accurately. The patient is then asked to rotate their hip joint. This is done to pin point the exact point of pain and for assessing hip muscles. Testing the strength of toes and ankles is then done by bending them backwards. This will indicate the position where there is a possibility of a nerve being pinched. Difficulty walking often indicates a nerve root compression. If symptoms are serious enough to suggest surgery; physical examination will be followed by further investigative procedures.


Sciatica due to calcification of the spinal cord

Sciatica may also be causes due to calcification of the spinal cord. Tests may reveal small osteophytes, small bony protrusions on joints. These protuberances are not painful but if rubbed against a nerve, the pressure could leads to sciatica pain. Calcification of the spinal cord can be due to various medical conditions such as forestier disease, lumbar spondylosis, or spinal stenosis. These protuberances can also occur without any of these medical conditions. An MRI, CT scan and X-Rays would be the recommended tests for diagnosing this condition.

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