Lists of the most painful conditions known frequently include sciatica. The sciatic is a large nerve and when pressure is put on it, pain is the result. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down the back of your legs, so this is where the pain is felt. The pain is often sharply defined searing, pinching pain that radiates through your buttocks, hips, lower back, and legs. Most people recover from sciatica without surgery and there are several interventions to try before signing on for a surgical procedure. Of course, the first thing to do is to obtain a proper diagnosis.




  • Sharp pain in lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs
  • Tingling sensation, numbness at the skin
  • The pain can come suddenly and end just as abruptly




A diagnosis of sciatica is often made with a physical exam that might include a neurological exam. A physician will have a patient sit, stand, and walk, lift his or her legs and try other maneuvers to help diagnose sciatica. The next step is to ascertain what could be the cause. There are several possibilities. To figure this out, computerized tomography scanning (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be deployed.

The sacroiliac joints are located where the spine meets the pelvis. Inflammation of these joints can trigger sciatica

Herniated disc


Spinal discs separate each of the vertebrae and act as a cushion that allows smooth movement. They also protect the two neighboring vertebrae by keeping them from rubbing together. When a disc is ruptured, when it slips out of position or tears, it is referred to as a herniated disc. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Spinal Tumor


Spinal tumors can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.


Piriformis Syndrome


The piriformis is a muscle deep in the buttocks. If this muscle goes into spasms, it can affect the sciatic nerve.


Degenerative Arthritis


This degenerative bone condition can trigger sciatica.


Spinal Stenosis


Associated with persons over 60, this is a degenerative spinal condition that causes narrowing of the spinal canal.


Fat Wallet Syndrome


Men who carry thick wallets around in their back pocket can develop sciatica from sitting in unbalanced positions




The sacroiliac joints are located where the spine meets the pelvis. Inflammation of these joints can trigger sciatica. This can be more pronounced after extensive walking, standing for long periods or carrying weighty objects. It is sometimes exasperated by pregnancy.




Various muscle injuries, inflammation from infections and bone fractures can bring on sciatica as well.




The first step in treating sciatica is often to try to mitigate the pain. This may be the first step, while the diagnosis is being formed.


Here are some basic options for relieving pain. Remember, surgery is usually the last resort and it’s rare for surgery to be the answer to sciatica. Surgery, of course, is sometimes the best treatment for a herniated disc.


Other Options


  • Heat and ice
  • Rest
  • Keep moving. Walking, light exercise and other movements can help relieve pressure on the nerve
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Pain medications
  • Epidural injections – a steroid injection into the spine




  • Frequent, regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Lift heavy objects without putting a strain on the lower back
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