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Types of Pain and Problems

Sciatica/Herniated Disc

Sciatica is a term that describes a set of symptoms which include pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in a lower extremity. Most often only one side of the body is affected. Although this pain is commonly referred to as sciatica, it is important to understand that the term sciatica only describes the symptoms, rather than the cause. It is difficult to differentiate the two because the treatment varies depending on the underlying cause.

A herniated disc is often referred to as a “slipped disc” which is misleading terminology. A herniation is a condition in which a tear in the outer region of the disc allows the center of the disc to bulge out. In minor cases, there is a release of inflammatory chemical mediators which can result in severe pain. Use of anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve the pain. In serious cases, the bulge may cause nerve root compression. When the herniation is in the lumbar region, a patient may experience sciatic pain. Unlike the pain from a muscle spasm which comes and goes, herniated disc pain remains continuous.