Sciatica (Pinched Nerve) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is sciatica diagnosed?

Your doctor may check your medical history and perform a physical examination. This may include observing your posture, physical condition, range of motion, and assessing for pain while performing certain movements.

Your doctor will also perform a neurological examination of your lower limbs.

Diagnostic tests may be prescribed, such as:

How is sciatica treated?

Depending on the extent of the condition, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) to help alleviate the pain.

Other treatments may also include:

  • Corticosteroid injections. Medications are injected into the area around the involved nerve root, often with the guidance of either an X-ray or CT scan. The injections help reduce pain by suppressing inflammation around the irritated nerve.
  • Physiotherapy. Physical therapy may also be prescribed to help stretch and strengthen the spine and lower back and neck muscles. These exercises help to increase the range of motion over time.
  • Surgery. If the condition is severe, and causes significant pain, weakness or loss of bowel or bladder control, surgery called discectomy may be needed. In this surgery, the surgeon removes disc fragments that have bulged into the spinal canal and are compressing on the nerve root. Additionally, if bone spurs are present, these can be removed as well.
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