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Difference between lumbago and sciatica

Lumbago and Sciatica are the same and yet different in some ways. Lumbago comes from the word lumbar with a suffix “ago.” The lumbar is the lower part of the back and “ago” means pain. Hence, lumbago is a general term that is used to describe lower back pain. There are several factors or other specific illnesses that cause lumbago. The main problem is which do you have when it comes to lumbago & sciatica.

Lumbago and Sciatica

The pain of lumbago is not measured through its severity, but further diagnosis is required to determine the cause of it. The patient who suffers from lumbago can experience an excruciating pain that is caused by a slightly pulled muscle. On the other hand, a severe dislocation on the back can be painless.


Lumbago is very difficult to diagnose. It is because of the several factors and parts that can cause it. These parts could be the joints, the muscles, the bones, the nerves, and the discs to name a few. It is difficult to determine which among these parts cause the pain. It is thus important that a patient know how to describe the pain and as well as the area of the pain.

Complete information about back pain

Accurate diagnosis is important because a wrong diagnosis can lead to a more severe problem. The lumbago that is caused by muscles and other soft tissues is healed easily, but careful diagnosis is essential for the lumbago caused by fractures or tumors. The tools that are used for accurate diagnosis are MRI and X-ray.

Click “Complete Information About Back Pain” for more information.


There are three stages of lumbago. The stages are classified according to the time of persistence.

  1. Acute lumbago lasts up to four weeks.
  2. Sub-acute lumbago lasts up to 3 months. This condition can lead to chronic lumbago.
  3. Chronic lumbago lasts for more than 3 months. This is the most severe stage that it commonly requires several treatments to ensure recovery.



  1. The axial pain is the most common and the least severe one. It can be felt while sitting or standing for a long time. It can also be felt after engaging in sports. However, it can be resolved through resting, applying hot or cold compress, and taking a pain reliever.
  2. The referred pain radiates from the lower back to the groin, buttocks, or upper thigh. This is more severe than the axial pain and requires further diagnosis. The referred pain can also be the effect of some other underlying medical conditions, such as heart attack. It is important to identify what causes the referred pain to treat it accurately.
  3. The radicular pain is the most severe lumbago. Sciatica is lumbago’s type of radicular pain.

Lumbago Pain.


The referred pain radiates from the lower back to the upper thigh, but the radicular pain can radiate from the lower back to the back of the leg, calf, or foot. Sciatica is one of the symptoms of radicular pain because it involves a tingling sensation as well as the loss of reflexes. The pain can be worsened by prolonged standing or sitting.

Sciatica refers to the pain caused by the compression of spinal nerves. The sciatica runs along the sciatic nerves which radiate from the back of the leg to the foot. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve. Radicular pain is caused by some other underlying illnesses such as diabetes, foraminal stenosis, nerve root injuries, and hernia. Severe sciatica can make walking difficult for those people who are suffering from it.

As much as possible, a nonsurgical treatment is applied for up to two months. The underlying medical conditions have to be treated as well. However, if the pain persists longer than six to eight weeks, surgical procedure such as laminectomy or discectomy is done. Laminectomy refers to the removal of the lamina to enlarge the opening of the spinal canal which will in turn eliminate the pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Discectomy refers to the removal of the herniated disc that causes pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.


Lumbago is the general term used to describe low back pain. Lumbago has three types of pain. It can be a simple, low back pain, it can also be the pain that radiates from the low back to the upper thigh, or it can be the pain that radiates from the low back to the foot.

Sciatica is a specific pain and one of the symptoms of lumbago. Sciatica is a pain that runs from the back of the thigh to the foot. The nerves that are affected are called the sciatic nerves. This pain is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve.


There are several causes of lumbago. There are parts of the body like soft tissue, bones, discs, and spinal nerves that can affect the sensation of pain. The brain cannot distinguish which among these body parts causes the pain. MRI and X-rays are used to determine which part causes the pain.

The common causes are damage to the spinal column, disc degeneration, poor posture, damage to the soft tissues, obesity, joint damage, osteoporosis, menstruation, tumor, pregnancy, and muscle spasms.

Other underlying medical conditions can cause lumbago and sciatica. Some of these medical conditions are heart attack, hernia, diabetes, and foraminal stenosis.


Nonsurgical treatment can be conducted to treat lumbago. Specifically, getting enough rest and taking a pain reliever will suffice to treat the acute lumbago. The acute lumbago is not so serious that it can go away within four weeks. However, it is also important to treat the underlying medical conditions to ensure total relief. Physical therapy is also done to treat or to eliminate the pain.

Click to “How to Treat Sciatica Naturally?” for more information.

Click to “Natural Treatment Options For Your Lower Back Problems” for more information.

If nonsurgical treatment doesn’t work, surgical operations are then applied. These surgical procedures are laminectomy and discectomy. The application of these surgical procedures provides 80% of relief to lumbago sufferers.

Click to “Discectomy Surgery” learn more.

How to Prevent Lumbago

  1. Observe proper posture.
  2. Exercise daily.
  3. Watch your weight.
  4. Eat a balanced diet.
  5. Treat the illnesses that you have.


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