Sciatica isn’t a diagnosis, it’s a symptom of sciatic nerve compression. Sciatica is so much more than just low back pain. The nerve issue can cause serious pain in your legs, thighs, and buttocks. Severe cases of sciatica can even radiate into your toes and lead to trouble with balance and daily function.
At the practice of Edward Carden, MD, in Sherman Oaks, California, we take sciatica pain seriously. We offer customized treatment plans to help you get back on your feet — often literally — without the tingling pain and weakness of sciatica.
Here are five major signs of sciatica and how our office can help you find relief.
One of the primary signs of sciatica is a burning, sharp pain that radiates down the back of your buttocks and into your leg. Sometimes, the pain even extends into your heel. While the sharp pains are intermittent, you may constantly feel a deep ache and soreness in the back of your leg.
Numbness and tingling
When any nerve is compressed, you experience numbness and tingling. Compression of the sciatic nerve results in these sensations in your leg and buttocks. Pins-and-needles sensations can also result.
Usually, sciatica affects just one leg. That leg may feel weaker than your non-affected leg. This can affect your gait (especially if you’re a runner or other athlete) and cause referred pain in other areas.
The pain of sciatica can shoot down your leg like an electric shock. The intensity may take your breath away for a moment.
Loss of balance and function
Sciatica can make it so you’re not able to move your leg or foot. Serious compression of the sciatic nerve can make it difficult for you to walk. You won’t be able to put pressure on your leg to stand, and you find that you fall easily.
Why do I have sciatica?
Sciatica is a result of compression of your sciatic nerve, most commonly due to a herniated disc in your lower spine.
Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It starts where five nerve roots join together in your lower back. Your sciatic nerve extends down toward your buttocks, where it splits to reach down the back of each leg, ending near your ankles.
A herniated disc develops when the soft gel interior of a spinal disc pushes out of its rubbery shell. There’s very little space in your spine, so the bulging disc is likely to compress the sciatic nerve and cause local and radiating symptoms.
You might also have degenerating tissue in your spine that compresses your sciatic nerve. Additionally, spinal stenosis in your lumbar spine can cause sciatica. Stenosis occurs when your spinal canal becomes narrow.
A tight muscle deep in your buttocks, called the piriformis, can also cause compression of the sciatic nerve.
When should I be concerned about sciatica?
Mild sciatica often resolves on its own after a few days of low-key movement or all-out rest. If sciatica pain still interferes with your daily tasks, it’s time to come see Dr. Carden for relief.
If your sciatica comes on suddenly, such as after a sports injury or auto accident, you should seek care right away.
Dr. Carden provides a customized treatment plan to help you manage your sciatica. Depending on your condition and its cause, he might teach you stretches to practice at home that relieve your symptoms and alleviate the nerve compression.
He might also provide a spinal injection to deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into your spine to reduce swelling. Nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation are other treatments that may help in more advanced cases.
If you have sciatica symptoms that are interfering with your life, call the office of Edward Carden, MD, today. Alternatively, use the online tool to set up an appointment. Sciatica is often easily treated with exercise and stretches, so don’t suffer needlessly.