The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.  Descending from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the back of both legs, when this nerve is inflamed the pain can be debilitating.

It’s important to note that sciatica is not a medical condition on its own.  Rather, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem.  Sciatic nerve pain can indicate one of several conditions, including a herniated disc in the lower back, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis.


Pain from sciatica manifests on one side of the body or the other.  Pain is usually experienced in one buttock and may radiate the length of the leg on that side.  When seated, patients will experience even more intense pain.

When pain manifests in the leg, it’s described by patients as “burning”, as opposed to an aching sensation.  Rising from a seated position is generally accompanied by sharp pain.  There may also be difficulty walking any distance, with pain radiating down the leg on the affected side, sometimes as far as the foot.

Some sciatica sufferers report only occasional pain from sciatica, while others report constant pain.  Sciatica doesn’t cause permanent tissue damage and only in rare cases is the spinal cord implicated.

Diagnosis and treatment.

Because sciatica is a signal from your body that there’s an underlying spinal problem impacting the sciatic nerve, only a medical practitioner can diagnose the root cause.

A physical examination, including testing for mobility, tenderness, and strength is conducted, accompanied by imaging diagnostics like X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans to locate the condition causing sciatica, to properly address it.

Because sciatica presents so variously, a wide variety of therapeutic options may be applied, depending on the severity and frequency of pain episodes.  Conservative treatments are favored, with drug therapy and the application of topical ice and hot packs.  Some patients find relief in applying ice, while others prefer heat, or alternating between the two.

A doctor-directed program of exercise may be prescribed, in conjunction with physical therapy, medical massage, or other supportive therapies to help the patient strengthen the body and become more aware of its mechanics.  These strategies can go a long way toward preventing recurrence.

Only in those cases in which the underlying condition doesn’t respond to conservative therapies will surgery be recommended.  This also depends on the nature and severity of the issue causing sciatica symptoms

Spine Care in NJ.

Specialized in the care of the spine, the team at Spine Consult NJ is dedicated to treating all conditions associated.  Combining modern interventions with traditional orthopedic practice, we bring patients individualized support, from diagnosis, through treatment, to full recovery.

If you’re suffering from sciatica, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.