Sciatica Q&A

Sciatica Specialist

Dr. Compas of Capitol Rehab located in Annandale, Virginia understands that, while the pain accompanies it is most often temporary, sciatica can be debilitating and frustrating. Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which leads from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg and generally only affects one side of the body.

What Causes Sciatica?

The most common causes of sciatica are when a bone spur on the spine, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine), or a herniated disk compresses or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The result of this pressure is inflammation, severe pain, and sometimes numbness in the leg affected by that nerve.

Although the sciatica pain is often severe, most cases are resolved through non-operative treatments for a few days or weeks. Significant bowel or bladder changes or leg weakness may indicate the need for referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

Are There Other Causes of Sciatica?

Sciatica may also be caused by:

  • Degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae)
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back)
  • Spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slips forward over another one)
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscle spasm in the buttocks or back

Are There Tests for Sciatica?

Physical exam - This generally includes testing reflexes and muscle strength. Patients may be asked to walk on their heels and toes, lift each leg, and stand up from a prone or squatting position. Patients should be aware that sciatica pain can be aggravated during these activities.

Imaging tests - Herniated discs and bone spurs show up in imaging tests even when a person may have no symptoms. Doctors generally do not order these tests unless pain is chronic or doesn’t show improvement in a few weeks. Imaging tests we may order can include x-rays, a CT Scan, and an MRI. Sometimes a contrast dye is injected into the spinal canal, which then circulates around the spinal cord and nerves and appear white in this test. Another test that may be required is an EMG or electromyography, which is used to measure electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of muscles.

What Non- Surgical Treatments Work Best?

Alternative therapies that we commonly suggest include spinal decompression, acupuncture, and chiropractic.


9:00am - 7:00pm

9:00am - 7:00pm


9:00am - 7:00pm

9:00am - 1:00pm


Capitol Rehab of Annandale
5101A Backlick Road
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 333-5022