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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Good afternoon About four weeks ago I was diagnosed with sciatica.

Resolved Question:

Good afternoon
About four weeks ago I was diagnosed with sciatica. At the start I experienced very sharp pains in my lower back but now have no back pain. My left leg is partially numb and patches can be sore. However, the pain and numbness are at the front of my leg and my hip joint can feel painful. Can you tell me, please if this is normal for sciatica or could there be some other problem?
Thank you for your help.
Flora Dickson
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
Well, yes and no, although it is partly a semantic issue.

To explain, it is important to define some terms. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that forms off the nerves that leave the spine at several levels in the lower back, also called the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve passes through the area deep within the buttocks and the back of the thigh, then divides and serves the front and back of the lower leg and all of the foot. Sciatica refers to pain that follows this distribution - back, to buttocks, to back of thigh, to front and back of lower leg, and to the foot. As can be seen, it does not include pain in the front of the thigh.

Sciatica can be caused by any condition that presses on the nerves as they leave the spine or the sciatic nerve once it forms. However, the most commonly seen cause of chronic sciatica is from degenerative disease of the spine, pressing on the nerves as they exit the spine. The nerves that nerve the front of the thigh also leave the spine in the lumbar spine, so pressure on nerves as they exit the spine can also cause pain in the front of the hip and thigh. However, strictly speaking, pain felt in the front of the hip and thigh would not be considered sciatica.

You did not specify whether the pain in the front of the leg is at the level of the thigh or lower leg, but even pain in the thigh can be associated with sciatica, since it can be caused by the degenerative disease of the spine that can also cause sciatica.

It is also appropriate to note that many people that have degenerative disease of the spine can have degenerative disease elsewhere, and the hip is a common joint that is affected by degenerative disease. If there is pain from degenerative disease of the hip, it also would be considered due to the sciatica, but it can be associated with it because of the common presence of degenerative disease elsewhere in the body.

So, if the only pain is in the front of the lower leg, it is part of the sciatica. If the pain is in the front of the thigh, that would not be considered part of the sciatica, but it can frequently be caused by the same condition as the sciatica, so it can be associated with the sciatica. Consequently, it also is appropriate to treat it the same way as the sciatica is being treated. And yes, amitriptyline has been shown to help many different causes of chronic pain, including degenerative disease of the spine.

If I can provide any further information, please let me know.

Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 17665
Experience: Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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