Sciatica pain and symptoms can make itself known in many different forms. The below information is excerpted from an article on, originally written by Steven G. Yeomans, DC on August, 31, 2015.

While it is most common for sciatica symptoms to be caused by a problem in the lower back, there are other conditions that may lead to sciatica-like symptoms.

  • Pressure on the sacral nerve roots from sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction may include a sciatica-like pain or numbness that is often described as a deep ache felt inside the leg more so than a linear, well-defined geographic area of pain/numbness found in true sciatica.

  • Pressure on the sciatic nerve from piriformis muscle

This pressure on the sciatic nerve can tighten and irritate the sciatic nerve (called piriformis syndrome). Symptoms of piriformis syndrome may include a sciatica-like pain and/or numbness in the leg that is usually more intense above the knee, usually starts in the rear rather than the low back, and often spares the low back of symptoms or signs.

In addition, any change in the body, such as carrying extra weight while pregnant, can also lead to sciatica symptoms.

The Difference Between Sciatic Pain and Referred Pain

To clarify terminology, the term sciatica is often used to indicate any form of pain that radiates into the leg.

If the sciatic nerve is pinched and the pain in the leg is from the nerve (radicular pain), then this is a correct use of the term sciatica.

If the pain is referred to the leg from a joint (referred pain), then using the term sciatica is technically incorrect.

Referred pain from arthritis or other joint problems that may cause leg pain (which feels like sciatica) is actually more common than true sciatica.

There is a wide range of sciatica symptoms and the type and severity of pain depends on the condition causing the symptoms, as well as the individual patient’s experience of the pain.

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