ZocdocAnswersIf you have sciatic nerve pain for more than 2 years, should you see a doctor?

Question

If you have sciatic nerve pain for more than 2 years, should you see a doctor?

I have had this pain off and on for 2 years. Last year I went to the doctors and she just gave me pain meds. And now it's worse then it was before. The pain is sometimes unbearable to the point I'm limping around. Any opinions on what I should do?

Answer

Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica is a layman's term that is used to describe lumbar radiculopathy. I recommend that you see a physician regarding this matter. Lumbar radiculopathy is a condition where a nerve or a series of nerves that are exiting the lumbar spine in the low back become pinched or irritated which results in pain, tingling, and/or numbness going down one leg. Most of the time people complain of pain. Sometimes this condition is associated with low back pain. The first step to getting this problem worked up is to have a physician perform a physical exam to look for signs of lumbar radiculopathy. This includes an exam of your low back, a straight leg raise maneuver, and a neurological exam of your lower extremities to make sure that everything is intact. Additionally, many doctors will then order an MRI of the lumbar spine to look for a cause of the symptoms. If something is found, then referral to a physiatrist is often recommended for further assessment. Certain injections, physical therapy, and some medications can be greatly helpful. If the MRI of the lumbar spine shows significantly compromised nerves or central canal spinal stenosis, then referral to a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic spine surgeon is usually warranted for consideration of a decompression surgery. Good luck.

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