Sciatic pain is often described as sharp, shooting pain that originates in the low back and radiates down the back of the leg. The pain is felt along the course of the sciatic nerve and can include a change in sensation and muscle weakness due to damaged nerve fibers. Sciatic nerve injury can be caused by compression or injury anywhere along the course of the nerve and injury or inflammation of nerve roots in the spine that supply the sciatic nerve. This can be caused by a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or bone spurs from osteoarthritis. A diagnosis is made based on history and physical exam and in some cases an MRI or electrodiagnostic studies like EMG, NCV may be needed.
The treatment includes physical therapy, application of ice and/or heat, non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and neuropathic agents. In some cases, if the patient does not improve with conservative measures then epidural steroid injections or surgery may be considered.