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Is something wrong with my sciatic nerve?

I have pain in my lower back and a friend said that this can be caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. Is this what is wrong with me? How can I tell if my pain is just a muscle ache or if I have a sciatic nerve problem?
I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your lower back. There are two main types of pain syndromes that can affect the lower back. The first are problems of muscle strain. Here, the muscles that run up and down the sides of the spinal column are very sore and may even spasm. The pain with this can be very severe but it is typically localized just to the lower back. The condition generally will respond to rest, stretching exercises, and anti inflammatory medications, and it is typically caused by things like heavy lifting and improper posture. On the other hand, sciatic nerve problems in the lower back feel quite different. In these conditions, nerves running out of the back become compressed or pinched, usually because of a bulging disc or arthritis of the spine. Here, there may be severe pain of the lower back, but the pain usually also runs down one leg or the other and there also may be numbness and tingling into the leg. The condition also tends to respond to rest and anti inflammatory medications, but more intensive medical treatments may also be required. I suggest that you go see your primary care doctor about this problem. They will be able to help you figure out which of these problems you might have and give you more specific recommendations about treatment.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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