Sciatic nerve pain has to do with the pain that emanates along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your buttocks and hips and down to each leg. Sciatic nerve pain usually affects only one side of your body.

It often occurs when a bone spur on the spine, narrowing of the spine, or a ruptured disk constricts a part of the nerve. When part of the nerve is compressed, pain, inflammation, and numbness can arise.

While it’s possible for sciatic nerve pain to be severe, it can usually be relieved with the help of several non-invasive treatments. To better understand sciatic nerve pain, its causes, and treatment options, the team at Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists invites you to read this informative guide.


Back view of athletic young woman in sportswear touching her neck and lower back muscles by painful injury, over a nature background. Sport injuries concept.Sciatic nerve pain usually occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. This typically happens due a bone spur or an overgrowth of a bone in your vertebrae or a herniated disc in your spine. In

rare instances, nerve pain can be caused by a tumor or a disease. Other conditions that cause sciatic nerve pain include:

  • Lumbar degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease that is seen in the lower back or lumbar spine is a syndrome where a compromised disc leads to lower back pain. Causes of lumbar degenerative disc disease vary and may be from a simple wear and tear or a more serious cause.
  • Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra moves forward over the one below it. It is a common cause of leg and lower back pain in younger adults.
  • Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage around the joint wears out and forces the bones in the joint to rub together. When these bones rub together, pain and inflammation may occur.


Not every individual with sciatic nerve pain requires medical care. However, if you find that your symptoms are severe and continue for longer than a month, a doctor’s visit is necessary. When you meet with your doctor, he or she will likely start by asking you several questions. These questions may relate to whether or not you’ve experienced weakness in your legs, your exercise routine, self-care measures you have tried, and what types of activities or body positions hurt or help your pain.

Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and check your reflexes and muscle strength. You may be asked to lift your legs one at a time while lying on your back or walk on your heels or toes. Imaging tests such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan, or EMG may also be performed.

If your self-care measures do not work, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, narcotics, anti-seizure medications, or tricyclic antidepressants to treat your sciatic nerve pain. In addition, he or she may recommend a physical therapy routine to help strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture and flexibility. In some instances, steroid injections may be suggested in order to minimize pain.

Surgery is only an option when the compressed nerve leads to loss of bladder control, extreme weakness, or when the pain gradually gets worse or does not improve with other treatments. The board-certified surgeons at Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists are committed to giving you the highest quality of care for your sciatic nerve pain. We do not require an MRI and are well-trained to give you the resources and knowledge you need to put sciatic nerve pain to an end.

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