Sciatica Causes and Symptoms

Causes Of Sciatica

Sciatica pain is often caused by something pressing on the nerve roots in your lumbar spine, or lower back. Commonly, this is due to a herniated disc or bone spur pressing on a nerve root. The most common causes of sciatica nerve pain include:

  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc
  • Trauma
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Tumors

Sciatica Symptoms

Typical sciatica symptoms usually occur on one side of your body. They might affect your shoulder, arm, or leg. In more severe cases of spinal stenosis, the condition could affect the exiting nerves on both sides of the spinal cord, causing sciatica symptoms on both sides of your body. This can cause pain that becomes debilitating. You might experience symptoms such as:

  • Sharp, needle-like pain
  • Burning
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tightness
  • Cramping
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

Diagnosing Sciatica

In order to accurately diagnose sciatica, your spine specialist will need to take you through a diagnostic workup that could include the following:

  • Getting your medical history, including an assessment of your current symptoms as well as any treatments or care you’ve received in the past.
  • A thorough physical examination. This will help your doctor see any symptoms such as muscle weakness, pain, or signs of spinal cord damage.
  • Diagnostic tests including CT scans, MRIs, and x-rays. These give the spine specialists a detailed, three-dimensional view of your spinal structure so they can identify abnormalities that could be the cause of your sciatica nerve pain.

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