I want to ask about which methods or tests are appropriate for differentiating different causes for sciatic nerve pain when the cause is not obvious (i.e. not trauma from direct impact).

On the one hand, it does relate to the condition I'm experiencing myself: I feel my Orthopedic specialist is, shall we say, under-enthusiastic about diagnosing the cause or even describing the possible causes to me. On the other hand, I'm not asking "why do I have sciatica".

Now, I've read this answer:

Are differential diagnosis questions on topic?

which suggests that perhaps over-generalizing is not a good idea; but - over-personalizing isn't either. So, how should I proceed?

Edit: Eventually asked this question:

How to differentially diagnose continuing sciatic pain given this existing information?


I think you should follow the advice Susan gives in her answer, in particular her third point labeled "Probably OK."

One of the criteria I use for judging whether borderline questions cross the line into personal advice is how useful the answers may be to others. If a question is so specific to an individual's circumstances that only someone else with identical circumstances would find it useful, then it gets closed. But if the question is broad enough to be useful to a wide range of others and it's not blatantly personalized, I generally leave it open. Other mods may not follow that exact line of reasoning, and the community may vote it closed anyway, so it's no guarantee. I'm just saying that's how I operate.

I think your question is perfectly fine. You're asking for a differential diagnosis, which is a far cry from asking for a diagnosis and would be useful to others whether they have sciatica or not.

  • This seems wise.
    – Jess
    Jul 3 '19 at 17:16

I also think it would be fine, again depending on the wording. You would need to present enough details to be able to eliminate causes/narrow the focus, without giving personal details.

Something along the lines of -

If a patient is experiencing a localized ache under load in the right biceps tendon insertion in the absence of any known trauma or overload, what could be the causes of this pain and what would be the top few diagnostic tests for more information?

I would consider something like that squarely on topic and of interest to both potential patients and doctors that may be unfamiliar with the specifics of such pain.

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