Painful Sciatica, what is it?

Sciatica Symptoms & Treatment – Anil Kesani MD

Dr. Anil Kesani explains that sciatica is a lay term used to describe radiating pain from the lower back and down the legs or radiating leg pain.  A fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, fellowship trained in spine surgery and board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, Anil Kumar Kesani MD is the founder of SpineMD.  Dr, Anil Kesani is experienced in providing operative and non-operative  treatments for various spine problems, including disk herniation, stenosis, and sciatica.

Sciatica or lower extremity radiating pain is caused by irritation of lumbar spinal nerves within the lumbar spine leading to radiating pain down the legs.  While it is commonly mistakenly referred to as irritation of the sciatic nerve, this is incorrect, it is actually irritation or pinching of the nerves within the lumbar spine that causes this radiating leg pain.  In fact, pain that is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle is the pelvis is referred to as piriformis syndrome.

Radiating leg pain can affect only one side of the body or both sides. Intensity can range from a mild ache to excruciating pain or sharp burning sensation. In some cases, the pain can be aggravated by cough or sneezing as this increases pressure within the abdomen that is transmitted to the already irritated or pinched nerves. 

Depending on where the nerves are pinched position really affects the intensity of the leg pain.  If the nerves are getting pinched centrally within the spinal canal or ” lumbar stenosis ” this leads to the leg pain worsening with standing and/or walking and improves with sitting versus if the nerves are getting pinched peripherally in the foramen or ” foraminal stenosis ” this leads to the leg pain worsening with sitting and improves with standing. 

Pinched nerves in the lumbar spine can also result in numbness and/or tingling of the affected area supplied by the nerve or if the pinching is severe enough it can also result in muscle weakness as well as bowel and/or bladder incontinence.

Sciatica or radiating leg pain can be treated by non-operative therapy such as medication, physical therapy and spinal injections.  In cases where nonsurgical treatment fails then surgical treatment can be an option.  In rare case where patients experience severe leg weakness or changes in the bowel or bladder function, a patient may have to undergo surgery on an urgent basis.  Please let you spine specialist or surgeon immediately know if this is the case.  Learn more about Dr. Kesani and how he treats conditions such as sciatica at  Also, check Dr. Kesani youtube videos out at SpineMD youtube channel here.

Anil Kesani MD Spine Doctor Sciatica
Anil Kesani, M.D.

Published by anilkesanimd

Anil Kesani MD is a fellowship trained and board certified spine specialist. After completing his orthopedic surgery residency; Dr. Anil Kesani undertook additional training in spine surgery by completing a combined orthopedic and neurosurgery spine fellowship. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.