These two very common conditions often get confused because they both involve leg pain with or without back pain. Here are a few ways to distinguish the two.Sciatica. The pain of this condition can vary largely because it is pain involving the largest nerve in the body. It can travel down the low back, buttock, posterior thigh, and sometimes below the knee. It can be burning pain, achy, and sometimes sharp. It is usually worse when sitting or bending forward.
Disc Herniation. The pain of this condition is usually a lot worse than in sciatica. For some it is the worst pain they have ever felt in their lives. It can start in the back and usually travels all the way to the foot and toes. It is distinctively characterized by numbness and often accompanied by weakness in the lower leg. This is a more severe presentation and usually needs immediate attention. It is described as electrical in nature as well as sharp and shooting pain. It is also usually worse with bending forward and sitting (but not always). Pain with this condition is usually relieved with lying on the back with knees bent.
These two conditions have many similarities and thus it is no surprise that they get confused. It’s the subtleties of the conditions that make diagnosing them on your own virtually impossible. Please leave that to the experts. But hopefully what you will take from this blog is that if you have back pain with leg pain, please see someone immediately as it may be more serious than you think.
I’m here to help.