Sciatica pain usually starts from the low back and radiates down to the buttock and the back of the leg to the foot. Usually there is associated numbness and tingling and sometimes weakness. Sciatica is not a disease, it is a symptom. Although the term sciatica means pain related to pinched sciatic nerve, it is not commonly referred to pain from other pinched nerves as well. Such as pain might be related to pinched L3, L4 or L5 nerve and still be called sciatica (even is it not the sciatica nerve being pinched). Indeed, most common cause of sciatica is a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine secondary to a disc herniation. Spinal stenosis, or foramina stenosis can cause sciatica as well. Every leg pain is not a sciatica. Sometimes facet joint pain and sacroiliac joint pain can radiate down to the leg and can be perceived as sciatica.
If your symptoms are not clear, your doctor sometimes may recommend diagnostic blocks to figure out the source of the pain. If there is pressure on the nerve from a herniated disc, the nerve will become inflamed and swollen, therefore causing pain. Sciatica pain can be very severe and annoying. Your doctor may recommend nerve root block (transforaminal epidural steroid injection) to treat your sciatica and may send you to PT. There are certain PT techniques such as McKenzie exercise that may help to reduce the pressure on the nerve and reduce inflammation and pain. Traction also might be helpful to certain patients.