Sciatica is a term to describe pain going down the leg that originates from the low back. The pain often begins after an injury to the lumbar spine with activities like heavy lifting. This may result in a disc herniation, which may then press on the nerves of the lumbar spine. The nerve can then be irritated leading to pain in the back and lower extremity. The pain is often described as shooting down the leg. The patient can also feel numbness or weakness in the affected leg.
Although imaging is not required to diagnose sciatica, it can often be helpful to pinpoint the precise location of disc herniation. Oftentimes an MRI will show the location and degree of the spine pathology. There are a variety of treatment options for sciatica including medications, physical therapy and steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections help to reduce inflammation of the nerve, which works well to improve pain and activity levels. Your provider can discuss this in more detail as there are multiple approaches of treatment.