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How sciatica is diagnosed

diagnosing sciatica

Your sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve strand in your nervous system. It runs from your lower back down into each leg. This nerve is directly connected to controlling and feeling your legs. When something causes a sharp burning pain to this nerve, it is known as sciatica.

Sciatica may be the result of poor posture, which puts pressure on your lower back and causes pain. This pain runs from your lower back down into one of your legs and can occur from sitting too long. More serious sciatic nerve pain lasts for a long time and is accompanied by other symptoms, like numbness and difficulty controlling bladder and bowel movements. This kind of pain is the sign of something more severe, like a slipped disc. In these cases, you’ll need professional medical assistance.

Diagnosing sciatica

Your physician will need to accurately diagnose the cause of your lower back pain to determine the correct course of treatment. He or she will determine if it’s sciatica by reviewing your symptoms and administering other tests, which may include:

  • X-ray — An x-ray image of your spine can reveal if your spine has any fractures or bone spurs that could be causing sciatic nerve pain. 
  • EMG — Known as electromyography, this is a test that measures the electrical signals in your nerves. It can help detect conditions like slipped discs or arthritis. 
  • MRI — An MRI can show your display images of the bones and soft tissue in your lower back to reveal certain conditions like a slipped disc. 
  • CT Scan — A CT scan highlights the bones and nerves in your spine to help reveal the source of your pain if it’s not evident in other tests.

Treating sciatica with physical therapy

Your healthcare provider will review your diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment if it’s determined that you have sciatica. Treatments may include medications, steroids and, in extreme cases, surgery. Many treatments also include physical therapy.

Physical therapy can help strengthen and stretch the muscles and ligaments to reduce pressure off your spine. Physical therapists will also provide posture education to help you avoid poor standing and sitting postures that contribute to sciatica. Plus, physical therapy may eliminate the necessity of steroids or surgery.

Contact Specialists in Sports and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (SSOR) for sciatica treatment

Are you suffering from sciatic nerve pain? Would you like to talk to a physical therapist about your treatment options? Contact SSOR today to schedule an appointment and discover how physical therapy can help reduce your sciatic pain and prevent it from returning.