Sciatica is inflammation of the sciatic nerve that causes lower back pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, serving your feet and legs. It runs down your back, separating at the pelvis and then down each leg. When you have sciatica, you may experience a shooting or sharp pain that begins in your back and worsens towards your hip, buttocks, and legs. The pain can feel like an electric shock. However, pain is not the only sciatica symptom patients experience. Damage to your sciatic nerve can result in many painful and debilitating symptoms. It can even cause significant and worsening disability if not treated by a Fair Lawn sciatica specialist. So here are five signs it is time to seek treatment.
Weakness and Reduced Mobility
Sciatica may present as weakness or a feeling of heaviness in the leg and foot that makes it difficult for you to move your feet. When the problem is caused by a pinched L4 nerve root, you may also experience weakness in the hip and thigh muscles and reduced knee-jerk reflex. Sciatica caused by inflammation of the L5 nerve root often results in weakness in the leg muscles and buttocks and difficulty moving your ankles, while S1 inflammation can make it default to raise your heels.
Sometimes, the symptoms of sciatica worsen when you assume certain positions. You may feel increased pain or numbness, for instance, when you sit, try to stand up, lie down, twist your spine, cough, or bend. You can usually relieve these symptoms by applying a heat pack over the back of your pelvic region or walking. Your pain may also increase when you lie down, disrupting your sleep. In this case, you can lie on your back with your knees propped on a pillow and slightly elevated or on your side with a pillow between your legs to alleviate the pain.
Pain is the most tell-tale sign of sciatica. Sciatica pain can feel like an electric shock or burning sensation that begins in your lower back or buttocks and radiates down your thighs, legs, and feet. Depending on the affected nerve, it can be intermittent or constant and is usually less severe in the back than in the legs.
In addition to pain, sciatica may also cause numbness, weakness, or tingling. These altered sensations often appear in the back of the leg and can feel like a heaviness, lack of feeling, or pins and needles. They can be mild or significant enough to cause discomfort and disrupt your sleep.
Sciatica usually affects one side of the body at a time. The symptoms – pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness – typically manifest in one leg, radiating from the back to the buttock, thigh, and hip. This often causes a feeling of heaviness on the affected side, which can disrupt your posture and gait.
Time to See a Pain Medicine Specialist
Sciatica symptoms can be mild and infrequent or debilitating and ongoing. Their nature often depends on the nerve root being compressed or irritated. But you can generally expect to experience pain, numbness, weakness, and reduced range of motion in your legs, thighs, buttocks, and lower back. If these symptoms start to lower your quality of life by affecting your daily activities, it is time to consult a pain medicine specialist for treatment. Contact their office to discuss treatments like radiofrequency ablation and steroid injections, among other interventions.