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About Sciatic Low Back Pain

By Kay Wagers, eHow Contributor .updated: September 25, 2009

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Pain in your lower back can have many causes, including a muscle strained from overexertion or stiffness from sitting too long. Your lower back pain can also be caused by a problem with your sciatic nerve.

.The Facts

The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lower back and runs down the back of each of your legs. It is the nerve that provides sensation to the back of your thighs, lower legs and the soles of your feet. Problems with your sciatic nerve cause a medical condition called sciatica. One of the symptoms of sciatica is lower back pain.

Causes

Sciatica can be caused by the wear and tear of aging and every day life on your back. This can lead to a herniated disk in your back that can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which causes back pain. Degenerative arthritis can cause the spinal canal to narrow, which will put pressure on the sciatic nerve as it exits the canal and can also cause back pain. Other causes include injury like a pelvis fracture or tumors on and within the spinal cord.

Symptoms

Sciatic lower back pain is different from pain in the same area caused by a pulled muscle. Instead of being localized in one place, sciatic lower back pain usually begin in the low back and then radiates down into the buttocks, then continues to travel (http://www.ehow.com/travel/) down the back of your leg. Most people only feel the pain down one leg. This pain can range from mild to debilitating. It can be accompanied by muscle weakness down the length of your leg.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of sciatic lower back pain begins by telling your doctor what the pain low in your back feels like. To diagnose the cause of your sciatic pain, your doctor might ask you to perform physical movements like leg lifts or squats so she can assess your range of motion. She can order an MRI to examine the disks in your back. A CT scan allows her to look for tumors on the spinal cord. X-rays might be needed to diagnose a broken pelvis as the cause of your pain.

Treatment

Treatment for sciatic lower back pain depends on its cause. The pain itself can be managed with medication, either over-the-counter pain relievers or something stronger prescribed by your doctor. Physical therapy exercises (http://www.ehow.com/sports/) to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back can relieve pain. In more severe cases, surgery might be necessary. Your doctor can remove the part of a herniated disk that is putting pressure on your sciatic nerve.

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