Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that results from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve located in the buttocks/gluteal region. Sciatic nerves are the longest and thickest nerves in the body (nearly finger-width). The lumbar spine actually has five nerve roots: two from the lower back and three from the final section. Together, the five nerve roots form the left and right sciatic nerves. Each sciatic nerve runs between your hips, buttocks, leg and just below the knee on one side of your body. Sciatic nerve branches then form other nerves that continue to your foot and toe. A leg numbness sensation and pins-and-needles tingling sensation are also possible symptoms.
This condition causes pain to radiate down the back of your leg and down your lower (lumbar) spine. The discomfort can occur almost anywhere along the nerve pathway; however, it’s most likely to affect your low back, buttocks, thighs, and calf.
In addition to mild aches and pains, the pain can range from sharp, burning sensations to excruciating pain. There can be times when it feels like being shocked or jolted. Coughing and sneezing can exacerbate the symptoms, as well as prolonged sitting. It usually only affects one side of your body.
In some cases, the affected leg or foot will also be numb, tingling, or weak. It is possible that one part of your leg is painful and the other portion is numb.
As a result of pinched sciatic nerves caused by herniated disks in the spine or overgrown bones (bone spurs) on your vertebrae, sciatica can occur. More rarely, a tumor can compress a nerve or a disease like diabetes can damage it. There are several causes of sciatica, including:
Sciatica is not always preventable, and it may recur. You can protect your back by doing the following:
In most cases, surgery is not necessary for sciatica. The most important thing is to give yourself time and to treat yourself well. For those who do not feel better with self-care, see a healthcare provider. It may be necessary to refer you to other spine health specialists if your healthcare provider cannot definitively determine the cause of your pain. Our best pain management doctor is ready to help you out.