What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

lower back painIf you’re having radiating pain that starts in your lower back and travels down to your buttock and even into your legs and toes, you may have sciatica.

In this blog, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Schiebert of New Jersey Spine Surgeons explains more about the symptoms of sciatica:

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is actually a symptom rather than a disease itself. It’s a common type of lower back pain that affects the sciatic nerve, which is a large nerve running from your lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of your legs.

What causes sciatic pain?

Sciatica can be caused by the following:

  • Pregnancy – an enlarged uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerve
  • Herniated disc – disc cushions between spinal vertebrae can weaken, causing the gel-like center of the disc to put pressure on the sciatic nerve
  • Spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Piriformis syndrome – the piriformis muscle in your buttocks can irritate the sciatic nerve
  • Spondylolisthesis – a vertebra slips forward over another one
  • Muscle spasm – in the back or buttocks
  • Infection or injury (rarely)
  • Tumors (rarely)

What are the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain?

Sciatica symptoms can include the following:

  • Leg pain that can feel like a bad leg cramp or an excruciating, shooting pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in your rear
  • Hip pain
  • Pain that worsens if you sit, sneeze, or cough
  • Difficulty standing or sitting due to the pain
  • Weakness, numbness, burning, or tingling feeling down your leg and even in your toes

Pain can start suddenly or develop gradually, and sciatica often affects only one side of the body.

What are the treatment options for sciatica?

Your physician will usually try conservative sciatica treatments first, which may include the following:

  • Heat and ice – heat or ice packs can be applied for about 20 minutes every few hours. One may work better than the other for some people, and you can also try alternating between heat and ice.
  • Medication – including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, anticonvulsant medication, muscle relaxers, or cortisone shots
  • Physical therapy – stretching and brief walking may be recommended for some patients
  • Rest – avoiding positions and activities that worsen pain

If conservative treatments don’t provide enough relief, surgery may be needed. Sciatica surgery might also be recommended if your symptoms are getting worse or if your pain is severe, since surgery can correct the underlying problem that’s causing your sciatica. For example, surgery may be used to remove fragments of a herniated disc, which were causing sciatic nerve pressure and pain.

If you’re experiencing back pain that may be caused by your sciatic nerve, call (844) -7-NJSPINE today for an evaluation with New Jersey Spine Surgeons. We’ll recommend the least invasive treatment possible to help restore your health and mobility. We specialize in the latest minimally invasive procedures and treatments so you can get back to your happy and healthy lifestyle.

Thank you. We will get back to you as soon as possible.