In diagnosing sciatica, a doctor will take your medical history and perform an exam of the back, hips, and legs in order to test for strength, flexibility, sensation, and reflexes.
Other tests may include:
- MRI scans
- CT scans
- Nerve conduction studies to determine the health or disease of a nerve
Often sciatica improves spontaneously so the treatment for sciatica focuses on improving symptoms by relieving pressure and inflammation. Typical sciatica treatments include:
- Medical treatments. Drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, oral steroids, or epidural steroid injections help to relieve inflammation.
- Epidural steroid injections. Steroids, with their strong anti-inflammatory effects, are delivered at the origin of the inflamed sciatic nerve roots.
- Physical therapy. This treatment strengthens the muscles around the spine to help prevent further episodes of sciatica.
- Surgery. Surgery may be warranted if the sciatic nerve pain is severe and has not been relieved with conservative treatments.
Although sciatica can be very painful, it is rare for the disorder to cause permanent nerve damage. Most sciatica pain syndromes will usually get better within a few weeks.