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When we hear the term sciatica, it commonly is referring to pain radiating from the low back down one or both legs. Similar radicular type pain can radiate from the neck down the arm(s). This condition can be extremely painful and even result in muscle weakness or other serious symptoms. “Sciatica” results from an irritated, inflamed, or pinched nerve. Fortunately, most episodes of radiculopathy (sciatica) resolve without surgery.

Radiculopathy (Sciatica)

When a nerve gets compressed or “pinched” as it exits the neck or low back, it commonly causes pain to radiate from the neck down the arm or the low back down the affected leg. 

Sciatica is a common problem in men and women. Approximately 5% of people will experience this painful condition in their lifetime. Common causes of a pinched nerve include a herniated disc, arthritic changes that may cause a bone spur to develop or bony growth that compresses a nerve. Sometimes it causes pain only. At other times it can cause pain and mild weakness in the affected arm or leg. In severe cases, sciatica can cause pain and marked weakness. 

Most individuals with sciatica experience numbness or tingling that radiates into the affected extremity. Sometimes certain movements like getting up from a chair or even coughing or sneezing can increase the pain. If you suspect you are experiencing sciatica type symptoms, it is important to see a physician such as a sports medicine doctor with training and experience evaluating and treating individuals with sciatica. Fortunately, most individuals with radicular pain (sciatica) will improve without surgery. If the pain is persistent and disabling, sometimes surgical procedures are indicated. 

At Sports Health Northwest, we want to help active individuals with radicular pain return to full activity. If you’re experiencing symptoms of sciatica that started with exercise or are keeping you from being active, we are happy to see you and work with you to help you achieve your goals of getting active again.

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