Running Doc: Battling sciatica

Thanks, Joyce, for the question. Chances are you will run again, but first you must learn the root cause of your problem. Sciatica—irritation of the sciatic nerve—is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It’s like going to the doctor after turning your ankle and being told you have a swollen ankle! You need to work with your doctor (or find another doctor you can work with) to find out why you’re having pain and tingling.

One possibility is pressure or inflammation on the sciatic nerve, which originates in the spinal column and runs down both legs. Any injury near this nerve can cause the pain, tingling and numbness you describe. It might be a herniated (slipped) disc, a crack in a vertebra, a tear or inflammation of a ligament or tendon, or something else. Tips from running doc. (New York Daily News file photo.) With your doctor, pinpoint when the pain first occurred, what brings it on, what makes it better, and what makes it worse. The doctor should observe your walking form and the wear pattern of your running shoes. Based on your history and exam results, you may need testing by X ray, CT scan, MRI, CT myelogram, and/or electromyography, as well as blood testing. Treatment may involve stretching and strengthening exercises, cross training, anti-inflammatories, chiropractic manipulation, and—in very rare cases—surgery.

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