Do I Have Sciatica? Probably Not, If…

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Sciatica is a term that’s often bandied about inappropriately, leading to poor diagnoses and continuing pain for patients.

While I can’t diagnose your problem over the internet (that can only happen during an examination and with imaging diagnostics), I can help you rule out sciatica as the cause of your pain in certain instances.  So, if you’re asking, “Do I have Sciatica?”, the answer is “probably not, if…” you recognize your symptoms in what you’re about to read.

Excruciating Back Pain

Is your back killing you?  Then you probably don’t have sciatica, as while sciatica originates in the lower back (where the sciatic nerve begins, extending down the back of both legs), sciatic pain is experienced in the buttocks, legs and often, the feet.

Sciatica has numerous causes, but it’s often the case that a pinched nerve resulting from a disc herniation is the culprit.  When the sciatic nerve is impinged, you’ll experience pain – just not in your back.

Runner’s Pain

Piriformis is a common complaint among avid runners and the pain it generates can be mistaken for sciatica.  The truth is that the sciatic nerve runs right through the piriformis muscle, so misdiagnoses happen frequently.

While not a very serious problem, it’s important that your care giver be precise in establishing the actual cause of your pain to proceed with effective treatment.

Where Does It Hurt?

If, when applying pressure to a muscle that pain results, the muscle is strained or perhaps in spasm.  Doing this helps you rule out sciatica, but you should still seek treatment for the muscle problem which is causing your pain.

Testing, Testing

If you’re concerned that your pain is being caused by sciatica, here’s a simple test.

Lie on your back and attempt to raise the affected leg.  Your leg should be straight when you do this.  If performing this action hurts, you’ve probably got a problem with your sciatic nerve which may be caused by spinal disc dysfunction.  The sciatica nerve runs the entire length of the leg, so take a deep breath, just in case.  If it’s sciatica, it’s going to hurt!


Joint dysfunction caused by osteoarthritis may sometimes feel like sciatica.  If you’re not sure if you have osteoarthritis, it’s important that you seek a diagnosis, as treating this condition is very different from treating sciatica.

Sacroiliac Joint

SI joint pain occurs when you have excessive or limited range of motion in the sacroiliac joint (located in the pelvis).  When this happens, the pain can be (again) misdiagnosed as sciatica.  While it’s in the same region, it’s not a hip problem and it’s not about your lumbar spine.  That’s why it’s so important to see a specialist to pinpoint the root cause of any pain you’re experiencing.  Treatments vary depending on the cause and if you’re misdiagnosed, you won’t receive the treatment your condition demands.

Back & Body Medical

Back & Body Medical is an award-winning clinic in the heart of Manhattan.  Our team of clinicians is focused on effective pain relief.  Contact us.

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