What should I do if I think I have sciatica?

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Sciatica?

When asked, “What should I do if I think I have sciatica?” most physicians and back specialists will encourage patients to schedule an office visit. During this visit, a thorough medical assessment will be conducted to diagnose the spinal condition that is causing the sciatic nerve to become compressed and to determine the proper course of treatment. Before contacting a medical professional, those who think they may have sciatica may first want to familiarize themselves with the symptoms that are typically associated with this spinal condition.


Though the symptoms of sciatica can vary considerably, most patients experience the following in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Burning pain or shooting pain
  • Dull or sharp pains in the thigh
  • Difficulty walking, standing or sitting

Most patients experience these symptoms gradually and find that they only affect one side of the body.

Diagnosing sciatica

Those who are experiencing the above symptoms should contact a physician or back specialist to confirm a positive diagnosis for this spinal condition. Most physicians will begin the office visit with a series of questions to assess the patient’s symptoms’ duration and severity. A physical exam may also be performed to test for reflexes and range of motion. In some cases, a CT scan, X-ray or MRI may be ordered.


Once a diagnosis for sciatica has been confirmed, most patients will be prescribed a conservative course of treatment, which may include over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, exercise and physical therapy. Some physicians may recommend open back surgery to treat the spinal condition (such as a herniated disc) that is compressing the sciatic nerve. Before committing to the complications and risks that can be associated with invasive surgery, patients may want to consider the effective, minimally invasive procedures performed by Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute to schedule a review of your MRI or CT scan.

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