Several lower back and leg pain problems have symptoms similar to sciatica and can be confused for sciatica.  Sciatica is one of the most commonly known causes of leg pain among the general population. Most people often self-diagnose their leg pain as sciatica. Unfortunately, several other conditions have symptoms similar to sciatica.

This list contains some of the most common pains that can give a patient the feeling that they may have sciatica when they are suffering from something else. Please check with your doctor to help you through diagnosing your pain and getting you on the road to recovery.

Piriformis Syndrome

This is a neuromuscular disorder in which the piriformis muscle spasms and causes pain in the buttocks. The piriformis muscles are located in the buttock region and can irritate the sciatic nerve causing pain along the back of your leg and the foot. It also causes numbness and tingling in the leg. As such symptoms of this condition are very similar to sciatica and can often be confused for sciatica pain.


Osteoarthritis affects the bones. Aging, injury, and obesity are some of the causes of osteoarthritis. The resulting pain often develops slowly and may feel worse after prolonged periods of inactivity.

Osteoarthritis of the hip causes pain that is generally felt around the groin. However, it also causes pain in the buttocks, thighs, and pain that extends down the leg.

Arthritis of the spinal joints can also cause pain that extends down the leg. However, spinal joints affected by arthritis typically do not cause numbness or tingling sensations which is a common symptom of sciatica.


This condition which is also referred to as “sacroiliac joint dysfunction” is caused by inflammation of one or both sacroiliac joints. The joints link the lower spine to the pelvis. The inflammation of sacroiliac joints results in pain of the lower back or buttocks. The pain may also be experienced in one on both legs. Prolonged inactivity can cause the pain to worsen. The condition also makes climbing stairs difficult. 

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disorder that causes neuropathic pain that is limited to the central nervous system. However, multiple sclerosis can cause the sensation of burning, tingling, and pain in the lower legs. It can also cause a sharp shock-like sensation that travels from your back to the legs.

Meralgia Paresthetica

This condition is caused by the compression of the femoral cutaneous nerve. The femoral cutaneous nerve is responsible for supplying sensation to the upper leg. The compression causes tingling, numbness, and burning pain in the outer part of the thigh similar to sciatica.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This condition is generally caused when the peripheral nerves of the spinal cord or the brain are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy also causes pain, weakness, and numbness in the hands and feet.

Peroneal Neuropathy

The peroneal nerve also referred to as the “fibular” nerve is responsible for motor and sensory function of the lower leg and foot. Damage to this nerve can cause pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness of the lower leg.

Several other conditions including broken hip bone, early stages of shingles infection, and vascular disease affecting the legs often present symptoms of low back pain and leg pain that can mimic sciatica.

With multiple conditions presenting symptoms similar to sciatica, it becomes extremely important to refrain from self-diagnosis and consult a medical professional to correctly diagnose your condition to provide the right treatment.

A complete diagnosis including physical examination, detailed medical history, and imaging tests including X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may be required to correctly diagnose your condition and determine whether it is due to sciatica or some other medical condition. Correct diagnosis is crucial in forming the right treatment plan to address the underlying cause of your leg pain.

If you have concerns that the pain and symptoms you are experiencing are something other than sciatica, reach out to our office at Cianci Chiropractic – our team is here to help you and answer your questions.