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Regular Back Pain Vs. Sciatica

Back pain is common. It occurs so widely that 85% of people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. One-quarter of American adults report suffering from back pain within the last three months. 

It’s often a tricky problem to diagnose and treat accurately, since causes often seem more varied than the symptoms. 

Problems with the sciatic nerve cause a condition called lumbar radiculopathy, though it’s perhaps better known by its common name of sciatica. There are many who use “sciatica” and “back pain” interchangeably, but it’s often inaccurate. 

Some experts suspect that as few as 2 percent of back pain sufferers may actually have sciatica. 

When you’re in pain, the source of your ailment may be less important than finding relief. The experts at Westside Pain Specialists are ready to help, both immediately and as you work through your condition. Call either office if you need relief from persistent lower back pain. 

Low back pain symptoms

Few pain sensations in the body can compare to the range of sciatic nerve symptoms. Pain can be sharp, shooting, and searing, or it can subside into a constant dull ache. 

Sensations often radiate along the nerve path, and not always as pain. You could feel numbness or tingling, alone or in combination with each other and with pain symptoms. 

Signs of sciatica typically appear only on one side. It’s possible to have both sides affected simultaneously, but this is very rare. 

It’s common to have sensations through the buttocks and back of the thigh. The nerve branches into two parts just above the knee, and both branches extend into the foot, so you could experience symptoms all the way down your legs. 

None of these sciatica symptoms, however, are exclusive to the condition. There are other back problems that mimic sciatic nerve symptoms, so self-diagnosis isn’t always accurate. 

Non-sciatic back and leg pain

True sciatic nerve pain results from pressure or irritation of one or more of the five nerves that emerge from the spinal column to form the sciatic nerve. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc in the lumbar region of the spine. 

Pain that mimics sciatica may involve the sciatic nerve, but the point of nerve pressure won’t be in the lower back. In fact, your symptoms are more likely to be in the legs. These conditions include spinal joint problems above the lumbar, sacroiliac joint issues, and piriformis syndrome. 

Axial back pain

The most common cause of lower back issues is called axial back pain. However, it’s not a specific condition, nor does it have a common source. Compared with sciatic pain, which originates from the nerves, axial back pain is mechanical and non-specific. Typically, it’s also likely to resolve itself with rest. 

Axial back pain has no leg symptoms. Your pain and discomfort stays local to the lower back. You might think of axial back pain as “muscle pain” from overexertion, and you’ll likely feel better within a few days of pain onset. 

While many cases of back pain of each type resolve themselves, they can interfere with your daily routine. 

Contact Westside Pain Specialists in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, by calling your preferred office. Dr. James Nassiri and his team can help limit the suffering your back issue brings. Call for an appointment today.  

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