Classically, sciatica is characterized by back pain radiating to leg but this may occur due to many causes such a muscle weakness or an overuse injury. Sometimes, sciatica may manifest symptoms that are other than pain. Therefore, before starting any treatment program it is necessary to rule out whether it is sciatica or any other problem. Here are some common signs and symptoms that can help you differentiate sciatica from other diseases.

Sharp, shock-like pain 

most of the people with sciatica describe their pain as sharp, burning and shock-like. The pain is usually continuous and is only relieved after some intervention like a hot pack, rest, or painkillers. It is necessary to know the type of pain as it affects the diagnosis of the disease as sciatica is often confused with mere muscle tightness.

Pain in lower limb

Sciatic pain usually radiates to the posterior part of the thigh, back of the knee and calf area. It also causes pain in some part of the heel. Sciatic nerve passes from these areas of lower limb causing pain. Pain in other parts of the leg can be due to other nerves.

Pin Prick sensation

Many a time, pinprick sensation or paraesthesia can be felt in foot depending on the amount of nerve damage or location of nerve impingement. This may also indicate some other serious problem such as a space-occupying lesion in the spine. Therefore, a physician should be consulted in such case.

Weakness in lower limbs

Pain and poor nerve function ultimately lead to weakness in muscles and if left untreated it may cause muscle atrophy. Pain is surely high in intensity but immobility will only deteriorate the condition. Therefore a doctor or physiotherapist should be regularly consulted to avoid worsening of pain.


Numbness is not very common in sciatica but can be sometimes seen with patients who have sciatica associated with back and leg muscle tightness. Patients often complain of waking up with numbness in foot and calf. Regular stretching can help overcome such problem.

Many other major and minor ailments can mimic sciatica. Therefore it is recommended to consult an expert who can help you rule out if you have a disease other than sciatica.