Causes of Sciatica

What is sciatica, and how is it treated?

Sciatica is one of the most common spinal conditions. It describes the nerve pain that originates in the lower back and radiates into the buttocks, the back of the legs, and the feet. 

The sciatic nerve is the longest continuous nerve in the body, beginning in the lower back and extending into the legs.

If you feel that you are experiencing discomfort and would like to see a spine specialist, contact us at OrthoNeuro today! We have many locations in Columbus, OH for your convenience. Our experts look forward to helping you ease your pain.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a term used to describe the pain but is not an actual diagnosis. Instead, it is a symptom of an underlying condition causing pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sciatic pain can be caused by several things, including a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, and pregnancy.

What Does Sciatic Pain Feel Like?

The type of pain you could feel may be different from that of another person. It is usually a severe pain that can be described as shooting or sharp. You may also have a burning sensation or a feeling similar to an electric shock.

The pain can be constant or infrequently come and go. Most will usually have more leg pain than back pain. The pain can be worse after long periods of sitting or standing.

Movements such as twisting or those that occur when coughing or sneezing can make it worse. You may also have muscle weakness in the affected leg.

If you are also experiencing a loss of bowel and bladder control, this may indicate Cauda Equina Syndrome, which requires immediate medical attention.

What Causes Sciatica?

There are many different medical conditions that can cause sciatica. Some of the conditions that cause sciatica are listed below.

These conditions can include:

There are also a few risk factors that could increase your chances of developing sciatica. Some of the risk factors associated with sciatica include the following:

  • A previous injury
  • Old age
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Occupational hazards
  • Sitting for long periods

Diagnosis and Tests for Sciatica

It’s very important that you schedule a consultation with a spine specialist to be able to diagnose and treat any underlying condition that may be causing your sciatica pain. There are many different diagnostic tests that can be used to help determine the cause of your sciatica pain.

Your spine specialist may begin with a physical exam. They may ask you to walk to see how your spine carries your weight. They could then ask you to walk on your toes to test the strength of your calf muscles.

Another common element of the physical exam includes the straight leg raise test. You begin by laying flat on your back with your legs out straight. You will then be asked to slowly raise one leg at a time until the point of pain. This test can help to identify where the nerves have been affected and to determine if one of your discs has a problem.

You may also be asked to do other stretches and motions to pinpoint pain and check muscle flexibility and strength.

Further imaging tests may be required to get an accurate diagnosis of sciatica. The imaging tests may include the following:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scans
  • CT scans
  • Electromyography (EMG)

How Is Sciatica Treated at OrthoNeuro?

The spine specialists at OrthoNeuro have helped thousands of patients with sciatica return to an active and healthy lifestyle using various treatment options. Sciatica is usually effectively treated using non-surgical treatment options.

Our board-certified spine specialists will create a treatment plan based on your lifestyle and goals. This may consist of any combination of the following non-surgical treatment options: 

Surgery may be recommended if sciatica does not respond to non-surgical treatment options. Two of the most common procedures used are a minimally invasive microdiscectomy and a minimally invasive spinal fusion.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Spine Surgeon Today!

If you have been experiencing sciatica, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified spine specialists at OrthoNeuro today! You can choose from one of our many convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

Our expert doctors will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which treatment is best for you. Book your visit today to experience the relief that you deserve!

Medically reviewed by Ying H. Chen, D.O., FACOS

Spine Care Specialists


“I recently had surgery on my lower back. I had heard that such surgery would result in pain and cause me difficulties in doing ordinary daily tasks but, I experienced no pain and was able to do normal activities at home and at church. Also, being a bee keeper, I was able to work the hives and extract the honey from most of the hives”

James B.