13 doctors weighed in:

What are the causes of sciatica? Is it always a herniated disc problem?

13 doctors weighed in
Dr. Patrick Roth
Neurosurgery
3 doctors agree

In brief: No

Sciatica is really a misnomer. Most causes of leg pain are more appropriately called radiculopathy, because the compression occurs in the spinal canal and the sciatic nerve doesn't form until much lower in the body.
Other causes "sciatic" pain include, spinal stenosis, tumors, pyriformis syndrome, pelvic pathology, neuropathy, and cervical spine pathology.

In brief: No

Sciatica is really a misnomer. Most causes of leg pain are more appropriately called radiculopathy, because the compression occurs in the spinal canal and the sciatic nerve doesn't form until much lower in the body.
Other causes "sciatic" pain include, spinal stenosis, tumors, pyriformis syndrome, pelvic pathology, neuropathy, and cervical spine pathology.
Dr. Patrick Roth
Dr. Patrick Roth
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3 doctors agree

In brief: Not a disk

The vast majority of people with sciatic pain (pain radiating from the lower back or buttock down the back of the leg) do not have a herniated disk.
The most common cause is muscle spasm. Many people have slightly herniated disks and surgeons are only too happy to take the disk out, but most of the of back surgeries are unnecessary. The best treatment is physical therapy and staying in good shape.

In brief: Not a disk

The vast majority of people with sciatic pain (pain radiating from the lower back or buttock down the back of the leg) do not have a herniated disk.
The most common cause is muscle spasm. Many people have slightly herniated disks and surgeons are only too happy to take the disk out, but most of the of back surgeries are unnecessary. The best treatment is physical therapy and staying in good shape.
Dr. Alexander Mauskop
Dr. Alexander Mauskop
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Dr. Lynette Green-Mack
Pain Management
2 doctors agree

In brief: No

Sciatica is common term for pain going down the back of the leg.
Other things can mimick this such as sacroiliac joint pain, zpiriformis tender point ( this muscle rund diagonally across the buttock), or referred pain from the lower joints in your back.

In brief: No

Sciatica is common term for pain going down the back of the leg.
Other things can mimick this such as sacroiliac joint pain, zpiriformis tender point ( this muscle rund diagonally across the buttock), or referred pain from the lower joints in your back.
Dr. Lynette Green-Mack
Dr. Lynette Green-Mack
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Dr. Qamar Khan
Pain Management
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Spine Pain Options

This pain in the distribution as you suggested is the result of an irritated nerve or facet joints or other injury typically in the lumbar spine (low back) which are caused by herniated disks, spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, etc requiring further evaluation by a spine specialist and may be candidate for facet injections/radiofrequency ablation and epidural steroid injection.

In brief: Spine Pain Options

This pain in the distribution as you suggested is the result of an irritated nerve or facet joints or other injury typically in the lumbar spine (low back) which are caused by herniated disks, spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, etc requiring further evaluation by a spine specialist and may be candidate for facet injections/radiofrequency ablation and epidural steroid injection.
Dr. Qamar Khan
Dr. Qamar Khan
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Dr. Peter Zimmerman
Pain Management
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Lay term

Sciatica, when used by medical professionals, is synonymous with radicular pain.
. However, lay people use it to describe all back and/or leg pain. So before we address causes, lets start with definitions - please tell us what pain you mean when you use the term "sciatica"?

In brief: Lay term

Sciatica, when used by medical professionals, is synonymous with radicular pain.
. However, lay people use it to describe all back and/or leg pain. So before we address causes, lets start with definitions - please tell us what pain you mean when you use the term "sciatica"?
Dr. Peter Zimmerman
Dr. Peter Zimmerman
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Dr. David Rosenfeld
Pain Management

In brief: Nerve irritation

It is due to irritation of one of the nerve roots which combine to form the sciatic nerve.

In brief: Nerve irritation

It is due to irritation of one of the nerve roots which combine to form the sciatic nerve.
Dr. David Rosenfeld
Dr. David Rosenfeld
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