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Do I really have Sciatica?
November 25, 2013
I hear this question many times a week
I also hear many people come in self-diagnosed with this thing called "sciatica"
But what is sciatica? And do you have it?
Firstly, sciatica is not a diagnosis.
Sciatica is a syndrome that describes pain radiating from the back into the buttock and into the
back of the thigh and leg. The term is also used to refer to pain anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is a very thick nerve that is formed from the nerve roots that exit
from the lower lumbar spine. Sciatica can be on one side, both sides together, or can alternate.
As it is not a diagnosis in itself but rather a description of the pain, it is important to consider the causes of sciatica or sciatic pain, just like when someone has a pain in their stomach, the cause of this pain needs to be investigated. Most of the time, if not all of the time it is due to a pressure along the sciatic nerve or the nerve root that leads to it.
Some of the possible causes of this nerve pressure are: Disc protrusion or herniation, degenerative joint disease, and much less commonly, tumor or infection.
When you see a chiropractor, often Xrays will be performed to judge the condition of the joints
whose exiting nerves form the sciatic nerve. In some cases, additional scans such as CT or MRI
may be recommended if a more serious problem is suspected.
The good news is for the vast majority of people who have sciatica, with proper management, they can expect to make a very good recovery. Only a very small percentage will require surgery. A couple of warning signs that your sciatica needs urgent medical attention are: If you have a change in your bowel or bladder function of a loss of control of either, and secondly if you develop muscle weakness in your legs or feet