When To Talk With A Professional
Most of the time, mild sciatica will go away within 4 to 6 weeks. But you should talk with your doctor at the onset of symptoms to make sure youre dealing with sciatica. You return to see a medical professional if:
- your pain is getting progressively worse
- your symptoms start after a sudden injury
- you have severe pain, muscle weakness, or numbness
- you lose control of your bladder or bowels
- symptoms last longer than 6 weeks
- pain interferes with your daily life
- you havent responded to treatment after your initial visit to see a health professional
After your initial visit to see a health professional, you should discuss a plan for when to return if symptoms havent gone away.
Sciatica And Its Role In Nerve Pain
One of the primary culprits for foot tingling and numbness is sciatica. Sciatica is very common and is the pain that follows the sciatic nerve, beginning in your lower back and running through your hips, glute, and down your leg to the foot. This nervy sensation can range from uncomfortable to bizarre to debilitatingly painful.
Generally, sciatica chooses one side to plague at a time. It flares up when the sciatic nerve gets pinched. And, there are several common ways for a nerve to become pinched, namely with a herniated disc or as a result of piriformis syndrome.
Could Your Foot Pain Be Caused By A Problem In Your Spine
A series of spinal nerves from your lower spine travel down your legs and terminate in your feet. When the nerve roots of these spinal nerves are irritated or compressed, foot pain can occur. Foot pain can also occur if a nerve is compressed near your hip, knee, or in your foot.
This blog provides a list of common causes of foot pain and helpful pointers to help you understand the origin of your foot pain.
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But How Does Sciatica Translate Into Foot And Ankle Pain
Well, if your sciatica is mild. You may feel temporary foot and ankle discomfort if you are standing for long periods at work or have to walk for a long distance. However, if more severe back problems like disc herniation or spinal stenosis are the root cause of your sciatica, it could also lead to more severe foot and ankle symptoms such as swelling, muscle spasms, or an inability to walk correctly.
Sciatic pain often starts in one leg but can then extend to both legs, into the buttocks, and down to the feet and toes. There are numerous causes for this condition, but one of two things usually trigger it: trauma an accident, illness or surgery, or a mechanical problem in your body like a herniated disk, piriformis syndrome, or pelvic congestion syndrome. It can also be caused by swelling of the spinal cord due to an infection such as Lyme disease.
The primary source of pain may be stabbing or burning in nature and often radiates down one side of the body from the spine. It can cause foot and ankle pain because it affects the nerves that travel down to these areas. Some patients also feel increasing tingling, numbness, or burning sensations when moving around or changing position.
Could sciatica be the cause of your foot and ankle pain?
If you are experiencing symptoms of pain in your feet and calves, as well as numbness or tingling in your legs, it is essential to be evaluated by a Physical Therapist because these symptoms could be signs that you have sciatica.
When Your Sciatica Just Wont Quit You Might Have A Misdiagnosed Case Of Piriformis Syndrome
If youre struggling with a chronic pain in the butt, relief can be hard to findespecially if you have piriformis syndrome. The hallmark sign is hip and/or buttock pain on one side of the body along with low back pain that radiates down one or both legs.
Piriformis syndrome can be a real pain in the butt.
The problem is, piriformis syndrome is often mistaken for sciatica. While both conditions interfere with sciatic nerve function, sciatica results from spinal dysfunction such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Piriformis syndrome, on the other hand, occurs when the piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttock, compresses the sciatic nerve.
Your medical providers solid understanding of the structure and function of the sciatic nerve and its relationship to the piriformis muscle is key to distinguishing between true or discogenic sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
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When Is Nerve Pain In Foot Serious
Any incidence of nerve pain in foot should be assessed by your doctor. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately as these symptoms constitute a medical emergency:
- Bladder or Bowel Dysfunction: inability to control function
- Saddle Anaesthesia: numbness in your saddle region between your legs
- Weakness: e.g. foot drop where you are unable to pick up your foot properly causing you to stumble or trip frequently when walking
These are usually linked with a problem in the spine rather than a peripheral foot neuropathy.
If none of these causes of nerve pain in foot is sounding quite like your problem, visit the burning foot pain section for help working out what is causing your problem or the common foot conditions section.
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider
Get immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Severe leg pain lasting more than a few hours that is unbearable.
- Numbness or muscle weakness in the same leg.
- Bowel or bladder control loss. This could be due to a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which affects bundles of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.
- Sudden and severe pain from a traffic accident or some other trauma.
Even if your visit doesnt turn out to be an emergency situation, its best to get it checked out.
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What Can Cause Sciatica In The Knee
The lower leg and foot top are supplied with sensation and movement via the peroneal nerve. Whenever its compressed, it becomes inflamed, leading to the symptoms of sciatica.
As it is located between the bone and skin, the peroneal nerve is vulnerable to compression. Putting any pressure on the outside of your knee can increase your risk of developing sciatica and eventually knee pain.
Traumatic injuries are one of the risk factors of sciatic pain. Often, the nerve in your knee will experience pressure due to the impact of the trauma. People who recently had an accident in their knees, legs, and thighs are prone to sciatica.
Other risk factors that can cause sciatic pain include:
What Tests Do Health Care Professionals Use To Diagnose Sciatica
Sciatica is a clinical diagnosis. In other words, the health care professional will be able to make the diagnosis based on the patients medical history, a physical examination, and description of his or her symptoms. If the patient has had sciatica for only a brief time and has no sign of any other diseases, no lab studies or X-ray films may be needed.
- If the pain has not improved after several weeks, CT or MRI scans of the spine may be ordered.
- If the patient has a history of cancer, HIV infection, IV drug use, or has been taking steroids over a period a time, the doctor may want to evaluate plain X-ray films of the back or a bone scan.
- Occasionally, laboratory studies may be helpful. A CBC may suggest infection, anemia due to certain cancers, or other unusual causes of sciatica. Elevated sedimentation rate may suggest inflammation somewhere in the body. Urinalysis can suggest a kidney stone if there is blood in the urine, or infection, if there are bacteria and pus in the urine.
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Is It Possible To Have An Acute Sciatica Attack
Most patients who experience an acute sciatic attack are afraid of both the immediate unbelievable physical torment, as well as the possibility of a protracted episode of chronic sciatica pain. Sciatica is surely one of the most diverse back pain syndromes, with every patient experiencing a unique and highly personal display of symptoms.
How Is Sciatica In The Knee Diagnosed
To make a diagnosis and determine the cause, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam.
To diagnose sciatica, your doctor will tap on the area around the top of your tibia. This is where the nerve in your knee is located. You probably have a pinched peroneal nerve if you feel shooting pain down your leg.
Diagnosing sciatica also involves getting an X-ray so that the doctor can check for fractures or abnormal masses in your knee.
A knee MRI can confirm the diagnosis and show details of the fractures or other issues in the bones, including masses within the nerves.
The doctor will also test your muscles using electromyography and do a nerve conduction test to determine how fast signals travel along a nerve for a more accurate diagnosis.
Sciatica can be mistaken for the runners knee. Make to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor or therapist.
This medical condition can have several underlying causes, such as cysts and tumors. Injuries in the hip joint may also cause it. Make sure to seek medical care when pain in the knee is reoccurring more than usual.
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What Are Sciatica Symptoms
Sciatica symptoms are generally characterized by painful and uncomfortable sensations caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve from compression in the lumbar spine region.
The sciatic nerve is the single longest nerve found in the human body it runs from both sides of the lower backbone through the back of the butt, thighs, and then all the way down to the feet. That is why when the sciatica nerve is aggravated, pains can occur anywhere it is located, including the feet.
It should be noted that if you are suffering from foot pain occurring from a sciatica issue, the pain is rarely only localized in just the feet. Usually, sciatica pain is felt through the affected nerves pathway in different parts of the hips, buttocks or legs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica In The Knee
The most bothersome symptom is dorsiflexion or weakness that prevents your foot from lifting towards your leg. You walk with a dragged foot as a result.
You can also experience pain outside your lower leg and on the top of your foot if you have a pinched peroneal nerve.
Nerve pain, tingling sensations, or pins and needles are some of the common symptoms. A person may also feel numbness, pain, and a burning sensation.
In the case of a pinched nerve that has been present for two weeks or longer, the muscles supplied by the nerve can begin to waste away.
Whats pushing on the nerve may cause intermittent or continuous symptoms.
In addition, pinched nerves in the lower back can cause these symptoms. It is also possible to have pain in your lower back or hip and outside your leg if this is the cause.
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How Can The Source Of Your Foot Pain Be Identified
It can be difficult to identify the exact underlying cause with all possible causes of nerve pain in the foot. Here are some useful signs for identifying the source of pain for your foot:
Foot pain following recent trauma may help to identify the site of nerve damage on the lower back and hip, knee or ankle
Foot pain from compression of the nerve root or sciatica can also be linked to other symptoms such as pain, numbness and/or weakness in the flesh, thigh or leg.
Foot pain that occurs after using tight boots or shoes can indicate compression of the peroneal or sural nerve close to the knee.
Sciatic neuropathy may be shown by foot pain that develops after hip injection or hip surgery.
Pinpointing The Cause Of Sciatica Pain Is Critical
There are many causes of sciatica, but the common denominator for sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve that sets off an inflammatory response, which causes swelling of tissues. In the case of the sciatic nerve, the irritation can cause pain that extends along the nerve into the legs and even feet, which doctors call radiculopathy.
The key to successful treatment is pinpointing the cause of the pain. Your doctor will want to know when the pain started and where you feel pain. Other factors will include whether you feel pain in both legs, whether it stops at the knee, or if you are experiencing tingling in your feet. Your doctor will also ask if you have tried any home treatments.
In addition, you may need to undergo a physical examination and/or a neurological exam to determine if there is nerve damage. Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI may be needed to determine the best treatment for the exact cause of your sciatic pain.
At Healthcare Associates of Texas, we specialize in finding the optimal treatment for you. Our nerve specialists work with you to help manage your pain and find the best long-term therapy for your sciatic pain. Call our Appointment Line at 258-7499 orcontact us by email.
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Depression And Negative Emotions
Stress can be a trigger for any kind of pain, including sciatica. According to Dr. John Sarno, a Physician at the New York University Medical Center and Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine Professor at New York University School of Medicine, bodily pain can be a result of repressed emotions and stress.
Sciatica and Dr. Sarnos study on mind-body pain became topics of interest for people who suffer pain in their the lumbar area, buttocks, legs, and feet. For years, he has been advocating a different approach to determining the cause and managing back pain that is associated with emotions rather than those that are picked up through MRI scans or verified using a diagnostic injection.
Needless to say, not all medical professionals have been supportive of his straightforward yet patient-centric way on diagnosing and treating back pains.
How A Spine And Sciatic Issue May Cause Foot Pain
Sciatica, which is medically known as radicular pain, occurs from an inflammation of a nerve in the spine that now radiates down the sciatic nerve. This nerve is what serves the hips, buttocks, back of the knee and lower leg muscles, and offers feeling to the thighs back and feet soles. Foot pain can be caused by a sciatic problem that can emanate from or be related to a spine issue.
Whereby foot pain occurs accompanied by pain in the leg, it is very likely that it is due to an issue or problem in the lumbar region. Foot pain may result from an unrelated lower back issue and a back issue may be the origin of an underlying sciatic problem. When there is a malfunction in the lumbar back area, problems of the nerves that go into other parts of the body may come up. This includes nerves that go into the foot and stem from this zone. Lower back issues such as lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and a herniated lumbar disc may cause sciatica and eventual foot pain.
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If you are suffering from foot pain that is a result of a sciatic issue, then you need to beware that it will mostly be localized in the foot only.
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Foot Pain Caused By Compression Of Other Nerves
Spinal nerves are not the only possible cause for foot pain. Damage to nerves in the hip, knee, or leg can also cause foot pain.
Peroneal neuropathy: When the peroneal nerve is compressed or damaged. This typically occurs near the knee. It will cause foot pain when you try to walk.
Sciatic neuropathy: This condition is described as damage to the sciatic nerve in your pelvic region. This may cause pain at the top of the foot and some weakness.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome: Dysfunction of the tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel. This is located in the inner ankle. Pain can be sharp through the ankle and sole of the foot.
Sural nerve entrapment: This occurs in the leg or near the ankle. It typically causes pain on the outer side of the ankle and foot.
Corns can also develop on the skin of your toes. Over time these can cause friction. This can compress nearby nerves in which will cause pain. Mortons neuroma is another possible problem. This thickening of nerve tissue in the foot can cause pain.
Low Back Conditions That May Cause Foot Pain
The following lower back conditions may prompt sciatica, which may in turn lead to referred pain in the leg and the foot:
- Herniated Lumbar Disc. A herniated disc occurs when a disc’s inner core pushes or leaks out through its outer core. This process causes pressure on the nerve root, which may radiate pain down the sciatic nerve into the leg and foot, with symptoms varying and depending on the location of the herniated disc.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. This lower back condition refers to the spinal nerve roots being compressed or choked, which may lead to referred foot pain symptoms including weakness, numbness and a tingling sensation in the foot. Related foot pain treatments include primarily nonsurgical measures to address the spinal stenosis in the lower back. Rarely, surgical decompression may be necessary.
- Spondylolisthesis. With this low back condition, a vertebra slips over the next vertebra, thus compromising the spine segment and potentially leading to a pinched nerve that can cause pain to travel down the leg and into the foot. Treatments for spondylolisthesis may include nonsurgical or surgical approaches.
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