Sciatica Explained: What you need to know.

Have you been told that you have sciatica? What is sciatica? Is it a symptom or a diagnosis?    Can it be caused by more than one thing?

Sciatica is vague. The term “sciatica” is often used in reference to the sciatic nerve that begins at the low back and continues down the leg. However, “sciatica” is not clearly defined.  

We commonly use sciatica to describe symptoms of pain extending down the back of the leg, often accompanied by low back pain, numbness, or weakness. The problem is that it does not provide an accurate and specific explanation of WHICH diagnosis is causing these symptoms.  

Sciatica can be caused by numerous conditions. In most cases the cause is benign, but sometimes the reason can be serious or even life-threatening if not detected early and treated appropriately. Below is a list of conditions that could potentially cause a person to experience pain down their leg (not all-inclusive):  

-Referral of Low Back Pain (aka muscle and joint aches can spread to nearby areas)

-Lumbar Disc Herniation (aka slipped disc, bulging disc, herniated disc, extrusion)

-Lumbosacral Radiculopathy aka “Pinched Nerve”

-Radicular Pain

-Foraminal Stenosis

-Cauda Equina Syndrome

-Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome

-Piriformis Syndrome

-Hamstring or Gluteal Tendinopathy



-Inflammatory Joint Diseases (ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, etc.)

-Spondylolisthesis or Bone Traumas  

The point is that “sciatica” is a symptom that can be due to a variety of causes but is not a true diagnosis itself. If you are experiencing pain running down your leg (with or without low back pain), it is important to have this examined by a specialist in neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis.  

At Norwood Chiropractic all of our providers work to provide a thorough history and examination in order to give out patients an accurate diagnosis. If you are experiencing what you believe to be sciatica symptoms, call to book an appointment today or schedule here. We will get to the bottom of this together.  




Bailey, Chris S., Parham Rasoulinejad, David Taylor, Keith Sequeira, Thomas Miller, Jim Watson, Richard Rosedale, et al. 2020. “Surgery versus Conservative Care for Persistent Sciatica Lasting 4 to 12 Months.” The New England Journal of Medicine 382 (12): 1093–1102.   Jensen, Rikke K., Alice Kongsted, Per Kjaer, and Bart

Koes. 2019. “Diagnosis and Treatment of Sciatica.” BMJ  367 (November): l6273.   Ostelo, Raymond Wjg. 2020. “Physiotherapy Management of Sciatica.” Journal of Physiotherapy 66 (2): 83–88.  

Troutner, Alyssa M., and Patrick J. Battaglia. 2019. “The Ambiguity of Sciatica as a Clinical Diagnosis: A Case Series.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, September.  


Dr. Tyler Kemp

Dr. Tyler Kemp

DC, Dry Needling Specialist, Acupuncture Certified

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