The Difference Between Sciatica and Other Back Pain

Do you have lower back pain that sometimes shoots into your buttocks or down your leg? Does the pain get worse after long periods of sitting or standing? Sciatica could be the culprit. 

Like with other back pain, the debilitating discomfort associated with sciatica can make your daily tasks and activities feel like impossible endeavors. At Peak Physical Medicine in Visalia, California, we understand how frustrating back pain can be — especially when you aren’t sure about the cause. 

Our providers are skilled at diagnosing and treating different forms of back pain, including sciatica. We address the underlying cause of your discomfort, so you experience lasting, effective relief!

Take a moment to learn more about the difference between sciatica and back pain and how we can help!  

Sciatica 101

Sciatica, or sciatic neuritis, is a painful condition that results when your sciatic nerve is pinched, often because of a herniated or displaced disc. This nerve runs from your lower back, across your hips and buttocks, and down your legs.  

Although herniated discs are the most common cause of sciatica, other possible causes include:

In some cases, certain infections can trigger sciatica. 

Sciatica vs. other back pain

Sciatica is a form of lower back pain, and based on the location, it can be tricky to know if your discomfort stems from this compressed nerve or another cause, like osteoarthritis. Typically, your symptoms help distinguish the pain, though your provider at Peak Physical Medicine may order additional testing, including imaging studies like X-ray or MRI. 

The key difference between sciatica and other back pain? Sciatica rarely stays in your back. 

It may begin in the lower back or buttocks and shoot down the back of one leg. It can feel like a shooting, electric pain, a stabbing sensation, and for some people the pain may even be dull or achy.  

Sciatica also usually worsens after you sit or stand for extended periods, when you walk, and after you cough or sneeze. 

Though anyone can develop sciatica, your risk increases if you:

People with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing sciatica. 

Treating sciatica

Treatment for sciatica depends on your symptoms and its impact on your life. For example, mild cases of sciatica may resolve on their own in a short period of time. 

Typically, medical interventions like integrative chiropractic treatment offer the fastest, most effective relief from sciatica pain. If you suspect sciatica is causing your lower back pain, be sure to get an evaluation from a skilled provider at Peak Physical Medicine to rule out other causes. 

We diagnose sciatica using physical exams and an evaluation of medical history, paying close attention to your symptoms and any signs of sciatica. Depending on your diagnosis and unique situation, your customized treatment plan may include:

Sometimes sciatica is caused by an underlying disc, joint, or muscle problems. Our team also addresses these issues to help prevent your sciatica from returning.   

Get to the bottom of your low back pain! Contact the sciatica experts at Peak Physical Medicine in Visalia, California, or request an appointment online now.  

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