Sciatica diagnosis techniques

Diagnosing your sciatica pain is the first step toward finding treatment and pain relief. If you have been experiencing pain, numbness or weakness in your legs or feet from a pinched sciatic nerve, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to find the source of your pain.

How is a sciatica diagnosis made?

A sciatica diagnosis often involves both a physical examination as well as an interview with your physician regarding your medical history and symptoms. There are several conditions that can cause the pain associated with sciatica, and your physician will want to determine the correct one before delivering a sciatica diagnosis.

Some questions to expect during your appointment include:

  • How long has the pain been present?
  • What does it feel like: numb, shooting, dull, down just one leg?
  • Does it prevent you from doing your normal activities?
  • Does it lessen when you rest or sit down?

In addition to a medical history and physical exam, your physician may conduct simple tests to assess range of motion and any painful areas. An MRI, X-ray or CT scan may be ordered so your doctor can take a close look at what is compressing your sciatic nerve.

What is the next step after a sciatica diagnosis is made?

If you have received a sciatica diagnosis, there are many treatments your doctor may suggest, depending on the cause and severity of your pain. For many patients, a series of conservative treatments like physical therapy, hot/cold compression, spinal injections and lifestyle changes are effective in reducing sciatica pain and providing lasting relief.

Sciatica surgery is usually considered when nonsurgical treatments have not proven effective at providing a return to a good quality of life. It is important to consider all of the surgical options available to you if you are being asked to consider undergoing a procedure.

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery, offering our patients a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^


Many causes of sciatica can be treated with our minimally invasive decompression surgery. However, if the condition has weakened the lumbar spine, a minimally invasive stabilization surgery may be recommended. Take the next step toward pain relief today by contacting Laser Spine Institute and learning more about the benefits of our outpatient procedures.

We can help you receive a free MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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