The term Sciatica is, as you noted below, is generally used as a general term for back pain into the buttock or leg. A true “sciatica” is from compression of the sciatic nerve which is a nerve composed by a number of spinal nerves, typically L3-S1. A true compression is from something like a piriformis syndrome whereas compression of one of the spinal nerves in the spine occurring from one of the conditions you list below.
The accurate term for compression of a spinal nerve with associated symptoms is “radiculopathy” which can be under the umbrella of “sciatica”.
Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that begins in the lower back and radiates downward to the buttocks and through the leg, sometimes even reaching the foot. The pain is the result of compression of the sciatic nerve.
Generally affecting only one side of the body, the pain can range from a mild ache to excruciating sharp-shooting pain. Sciatic pain can sometimes feel like an electric jolt down your back and leg. It may even feel worse with sudden jerking movements, such as sneezing or coughing.
In addition to pain, other symptoms may include numbness, weakness or tingling in the affected leg and foot.
In younger adults, sciatica is usually the result of conditions including:
In older adults, sciatica is typically due to conditions such as:
The issue with the word sciatica is that is has become an umbrella term for any and all lower back/leg pain. This results in patients misdiagnosing themselves and then incorrectly administering self-treatment, which can potentially cause more damage and pain.
The reality is that there are a variety of other spinal conditions that mimic the symptoms of sciatica. These include:
Because other conditions are very clever at simulating sciatica symptoms, the best way to determine if you have sciatica is to contact a specialist for a complete assessment.
At the New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, Dr. Sandro LaRocca is one of the leaders in effectively treating orthopaedic spinal conditions, including sciatica and similar disorders. Working with a compassionate, professional staff, Dr. LaRocca offers patients comprehensive spinal care, complete with a personalized treatment plan tailored to meet your individual needs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. LaRocca, contact us today.