Sciatica syndrome – symptoms and diagnostics

Sciatica syndrome - symptoms and diagnostics

What are the symptoms of the disease?

Typical is nerve pain (sciatica), which – in contrast to local back pain – can be felt along the entire course of the sciatic nerve, i.e. radiates from the lumbar region to the buttocks to the outside and back of the affected leg and the foot. Leg pain is often worse than back pain. It can suddenly “shoot in”, rise and fall in waves or last – mostly pulling. As a result of the pain at the point where the nerve exits, the surrounding muscles cramp next to the spine, intensifying the pain and leading to a relieving posture, usually with the trunk bending sideways.


Numbness and tingling are other symptoms

In addition to the pain, the nerve irritation in the affected supply areas can also lead to loss of information and, thus, to corresponding failures: numbness, tingling like pins and needles, increased sensitivity and burning or muscle weakness up to paralysis.

Certain activities or postures often aggravate the symptoms: bending forward with stretched legs to the tips of the toes or raising the stretched leg in the supine position stretches the sciatic nerve and causes it to hurt more (Lasègue sign). The doctor takes advantage of this phenomenon during the examination. Coughing or sneezing, sitting or standing can also worsen the pain, but walking often improves it.

The following symptoms indicate an emergency requiring surgery as a result of nerve compression (compression):

  • Numbness between the legs
  • new disorders of the bladder or rectum function (drip urine, faecal incontinence )

You should consult a specialist immediately!

How is the diagnosis made?

Often, the symptoms, the spread of the complaints, and the results of the physical examination are already so typical that the doctor can easily make the diagnosis. However, the severity of the pain and the severity of the symptoms cannot be used to determine the cause. Depending on the case, further examinations follow, e.g. computer or magnetic resonance imaging.

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