How To Tell If You Have Sciatica

By on May 12, 2011
Person holding lower back due to sciatica pain.

Symptoms of disk-herniation sciatica usually develop suddenly. Occasionally, a dull lower-back pain precedes the most severe pain. The pain is worsened by prolonged sitting, standing, coughing, sneezing, bending at the waist or lifting.

Lying flat on the back with a pillow under the knees or on the side with the knees bent may help relieve the pain. In addition to a thorough medical history and physical examination, radiographs should be performed, which typically show mild age-related changes. MRI’s are done if symptoms are severe or persistent.

Diagnostic Tests For Sciatica

Electrodiagnostic testing (e.g., EMG) may be done to verify neurologic involvement. Individuals with flat feet may be more prone to developing piriformis syndrome because they rotate their legs inwardly, and the piriformis has to work harder to correct this. Radiographs and MRI’s can evaluate the possibility of an anatomic cause of compression. Electrodiagnostic test, if performed, are usually normal.

Sciatica May Be Confused With…

Many other conditions in the lower back (e.g., tumors, stenosis, neurological disorders) and in the leg (e.g., trochanteric bursitis, hip arthritis). Therefore, a complete evaluation by a physician should be done prior to initiating treatment.