Some of the most common questions that our Phoenix Spine Surgeons receive are about Sciatica. This is one of the most widely recognized terms associated with lower back and leg pain. Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center of Mesa, AZ utilizes a variety of techniques to deal with Sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
While the term ‘Sciatica’ is widely recognized, it should be understood that sciatica is not an actual medical condition but rather a term used to describe a set of symptoms. This is an important point as it is also important to understand that it may be caused by a variety of conditions of the spine. The symptoms of Sciatica include leg pain, which may be accompanied by any combination of tingling, numbness or weakness. The typical pattern of pain originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the back of the leg. The term “sciatica” was originally coined as the typical pain pattern of pain in the lower back and posterior leg, tended to course along the location large sciatic nerve, which runs down the back of the leg. It has since been understood that the sciatic nerve itself is essentially never actually responsible for this pain. The source of the pain is typically the course of irritation to the many lumbar spinal nerves that contribute to the large sciatic nerve.
Typical Sciatica Pain
The symptoms associated with Sciatica can vary from intermittent and moderately irritating to constant, severe and incapacitating. The combination of specific symptoms also vary, which may include any number of the following:
- Deep, nagging pain on only one side of the buttock or leg (sometimes both)
- Pain that is worsened by sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A sharp, electric-like-jolt of pain that occurs in different positions
The pain associated with sciatica is typically caused by an underlying problem at the lumbar spine (lower back.) This condition might be any of the conditions listed on this site. When a patient presents to our spine surgeons with symptoms of Sciatica, the primary goal of the examination is to establish the exact cause of the symptoms. Once this has been established, the surgeon will recommend the best course of action, which may range from something as simple as rest or therapy to possible surgery, if the cause of the sciatica is deemed too serious or unlikely to resolve with conservative care.