What Are The Symptoms
Classic sciatic pain starts in the low back and buttocks. It affects one leg traveling down the back of the thigh, past the knee, and sometimes into the calf and foot. The pain feels worse in the leg than in the back. It may range from a mild ache to severe burning or a shooting pain. Numbness or tingling can occur in your leg and foot. This usually is not a concern unless you have weakness in your leg muscles or foot drop.
Sitting usually causes the most pain because of the weight this position puts onto the discs. Activities, such as bending or twisting, worsen the pain, whereas lying down tends to bring relief. Running or walking may actually feel better than sitting or standing for too long.
Seek medical help immediately if you have extreme leg weakness, numbness in the genital area, or loss of bladder or bowel function. These are signs of a condition called cauda equina syndrome.
Sciatica Pain In Front Of Thigh
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
What Are The Treatments Like
At the beginning of each session, you will be comfortably fitted with a harness designed to achieve optimal decompression of the low back or neck. During a session of spinal decompression, you will notice a slow lengthening of your spine as your discs are gradually decompressed and relieved of pressure. The treatment process is safe and relaxing. While some patients with extensively injured discs have reported mild discomfort during the first few treatment sessions, their discomfort generally subsides upon subsequent visits. A patient safety switch provides an extra safety feature, allowing you to stop at any point should you feel discomfort. Each treatment session lasts approximately 30 minutes. Individual patient results may vary.
Recommended Reading: Fever And Neck Pain In Adults
Bending Over When Lifting Heavy Objects
Whether you are carrying groceries to your kitchen from your car, picking up your child from the bed, or moving flowerpots in your garden, you are placing large amounts of workload on your lumbar discs. When your lumbar discs are overworked, there is an increased risk for developing herniated discs. This, in turn, can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve.
Pinched Nerve In The Back
A pinched spinal nerve may cause all kinds of pain. When associated with arthritis or herniated lumbar discs, the pain occurs due to the pressure on the spinal column. Moreover, the pain can travel down the thigh, despite the fact that it normally occurs in the lower back at first.
Symptoms are quite diversified. The pain can also occur in the front of the thigh, but it may come with tingling sensations and numbness as well. Weakness in the thigh is just as common, not to mention facing difficulties while trying to stand up or sit down.
You know you have a pinched nerve in the back if the thigh pain changes in intensity based on the position of your back.
Dont Miss: Fake Wrist Cuts
Don’t Miss: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain
When Sciatica Is Serious
Certain symptoms of sciatica may indicate a serious medical condition, such as cauda equina syndrome, infection, or spinal tumors. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Progressive neurological symptoms, such as leg weakness
- Symptoms in both legs
- Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
It is advised to seek medical attention immediately if such symptoms develop. Sciatica that occurs after an accident or trauma, or if it develops in tandem with other symptoms like fever or loss of appetite, is also cause for prompt medical evaluation.
What Complications Are Associated With Sciatica
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a drop foot, might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
You May Like: Is It Painful To Cut Your Wrist
With A Towel Or Pillow Under Your Lower Back
Putting a towel or thin pillow under your lower back can help keep your spine in a neutral position by reducing the gap between your back and mattress.
How to set up:
Donât Miss: Can Blueberries Cause Stomach Pain
Is Sciatic Pain Permanent Or Will It Go Away
There are few things worse in the world than chronic back pain, if youre currently suffering from sciatica or you have suffered in the past youll know how quickly it can take over your life and rob you of the ability to do even the most mundane day-to-day activities.
Over time this can have a serious impact on your physical and emotional wellness, so its more than valid to wonder if the pain will ever go away or if youre going to suffer from it for life.
Sciatica is known as the pain associated with the sciatic nerve in the body. This nerve is one of the largest nerves of the body. This nerve is made of many individual nerves that branch out from the lower part of the spine normally from 3rd lumbar segment. A single nerve root comes out of every level in the lower spine and all of them form a single large sciatic nerve. This large nerve then runs down through the buttock to the backside of each leg. In the leg, the portions branch out to the thigh, calf and then to the toes through the foot. This sciatic pain is very rare before the age of 20 and becomes common during the Middle Ages i.e. normally between the ages of 40-50. This pain is so common that some researchers have even gone to say that this pain will affect 43% of the population at one or the other point in their life.
You May Like: How To Slit My Wrist
How Does Spinal Decompression Help Sciatica
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression slowly lengthens and decompresses the spine, creating negative pressures within the discs. This reversal of pressure creates a vacuum inside the discs that helps to reposition bulging discs and draw extruded disc material back into place, taking pressure off pinched nerves. Spinal experts believe that nutrients, oxygen, and fluids are drawn into the disc to create a revitalized environment conducive to healing.
How Is Hip Pain And Leg Pain Treated
Hip pain and leg pain can get better even if you do not know the cause. We offer injection and non-injection therapy to treat chronic hip pain and leg pain. Possible treatment options that your doctor may send you to us for include:
- Hip Joint Injection
- Lumbar Selective Nerve Root Injection
- Sacroiliac Joint Injection
Read Also: Is It Painful To Cut Your Wrist
Read Also: Lidocaine Ointment For Back Pain
Common Sciatica Cause #: Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is named for the piriformis muscle and the pain caused when the muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is in the lower part of the spine, connects to the thighbone, and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle.
The piriformis is a hip muscle that can compress the sciatic nerve when it becomes inflamed.
Piriformis syndrome can cause sciatica when the muscle spasms or becomes inflamed. Inflammation can cause the muscle swell and compress the sciatic nerve whereas the muscle spasms may impact people whose sciatic nerve runs through the muscle itself this is because the sciatic nerve gets squeezed as the muscle contracts.
It is worth noting that piriformis syndrome may be difficult to diagnose and treat due to the lack of X-ray or MRI findings. Dr. Subach notes: Having an experienced neurosurgeon or orthopedist perform your physical exam will make all the difference in the world, given the normal X-rays and normal MRI scans that typically accompany this cause of sciatic nerve irritation.
Surgical Treatment For Sciatica
For the small number of people that when the pain is severe or does not get better with conservative treatment, a more structured treatment approach, and possibly surgery, may be the best option for finding pain relief and preventing or minimizing future pain and/or dysfunction.
Surgery should be a last resort and is sometimes necessary, especially if bowel and bladder control is affected. If your chiropractor has any doubts about the cause of your problems or whether they can help you they will refer you to your doctor or a spinal surgeon for another opinion.
Surgery for sciatica is considered when the patient has the following:
- Severe leg pain that has persisted for greater than six weeks
- Pain that is not relieved after all non surgical treatment such as chiropractic, drug treatment and injections
- Severe Limitations on the patients ability to participate in normal everyday activities
Read Also: Does Carpal Tunnel Cause Numbness
Recommended Reading: Neck Pain Causes Nausea
Can Stretching Make Sciatica Pain Worse
You may have a sensation that you want to stretch, but it is essential to remember that nerves are very irritable and don’t tolerate rigorous stretching.
However, avoiding stretching isn’t the answer you need to take care to stretch the muscles involved while minimizing the amount of tension that you put on the nerve. I will walk you through this in the next section.
Always listen to your body and immediately stop any stretching or exercise that makes the pain worse or causes the pain to go further down your leg.
Nerve Root Wiggle Room
Its amazingly difficult to actually pinch most nerves, or nerve roots . In general, nerves have extremely generous wiggle room. For instance, in the lumbar spine, the holes between the vertebrae that the nerve roots pass through can be more than a couple centimetres at their widest, while the nerve roots themselves are only about 3-4mm thick.12 If you stretch or compress the spine, the holes do change size a little as much as 70130% in the looser neck joints,13 a little less in the low back.14 But even at their smallest, theres still plenty of room.
Schematic of nerve root wiggle room
On the left are the approximate proportions of a healthy nerve root & the hole it passes through . When the spine is pulled or compressed, the holes get a little larger or smaller, as shown on the right but theres still lots of nerve root room.
Theres so much space for nerve roots that even dislocations routinely fail to cause impingement.15 Once again, I invoke the example of a patient with a severe lumbar dislocation and no symptoms at all, not even symptoms of pinched nerve roots. Her nerves seemed to be fine, even in an anatomical situation most people would assume to be extremely dangerous.
You May Like: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain
When Is Surgery Considered
Spinal surgery is usually not recommended unless you have not improved with other treatment methods such as stretching and medication, your pain is worsening, you have severe weakness in the muscles in your lower extremities or you have lost bladder or bowel control.
How soon surgery would be considered depends on the cause of your sciatica. Surgery is typically considered within a year of ongoing symptoms. Pain that is severe and unrelenting and is preventing you from standing or working and youve been admitted to a hospital would require more aggressive treatment and a shorter timeline to surgery. Loss of bladder or bowel control could require emergency surgery if determined to be cauda equine syndrome.
The goal of spinal surgery for sciatic pain is to remove the pressure on the nerves that are being pinched and to make sure the spine is stable.
Surgical options to relieve sciatica include:
Microdiscectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove fragments of a herniated disk that are pressing on a nerve.
- Laminectomy: In this procedure, the lamina that is causing pressure on the sciatic nerve is removed.
Conservative Care In The First Few Days
Within the first few days of an acute flare-up of sciatica, you should rest, use an ice pack and keep your spine in a neutral position as shown here.
You may be wondering where you should put the ice pack because the painful area is so broad. The ice pack should be alternated 15 minutes over the spine at your low back and 15 minutes over the painful area of your buttocks.
Ice decreases inflammation, which will be present in both your low back and buttocks. The pain in your leg is a symptom of the inflammation in your back and buttocks therefore, you may notice a decrease in leg pain immediately after using ice. You can use ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, many times throughout the day for pain relief.
Read Also: What Does A Neurologist Do For Neck Pain
Don’t Miss: Can Neck Pain Cause Nausea
Questions To Answer Before Considering Sciatica Surgery
Sciatica is the type of pain that originates in your lower back and typically radiates down one or both of your legs. It results from the inflammation of the sciatic nerve in your lower back. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy: pinching of a nerve as it exits the spine.
Surgery is one of the treatment options for sciatica, but itâs not for everyone. Below are some important questions to consider before making your decision, addressed by orthopaedic surgeon Brian Neuman.
You May Like: How To Fake A Knee Injury To A Doctor
What Are Some Nonsurgical Sciatica Treatments
Most patients with sciatica symptoms or lumbar radiculopathy improve over time and respond well to non-surgical treatments, such as medication, exercise and special sciatica stretches, and physical therapy . Spinal manipulation, such as chiropractic care, also can help reduce sciatica symptoms. In most cases, sciatica gets better in 4 to 6 weeks.
Standard treatments for sciatica include PT, exercise, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, as well as OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , Dr. Wang says. If that doesnt work and the pain is acute, the next step is usually injection of an epidural steroid injection or a nerve root block.
In some cases, a short course of oral steroids may be considered before trying steroid injections. Under a doctor or healthcare providers advice, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce swelling and sciatic pain. There are many types of OTC medication, such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen .
Common Sciatica Cause #: Disc Degeneration
Technically disc degeneration is more a risk factor for herniated discs than a cause of sciatica, but it leads to sciatica so often wed be remiss to exclude it.
Disc degeneration, or degenerative disc disease , is an extremely common and almost inevitable part of aging. Over timeyears and decadesintervertebral discs undergo a drying out process called disc desiccation. The water content in the discs drop, which makes them weaker, more brittle, and more prone to herniation.
Although DDD is incredibly prevalent and almost unavoidable, there are some lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce your risk of or slow down disc degeneration, such as:
- Practicing proper lifting mechanics
Immediate Action Required: Go To A& e Or Call 999 If You:
- have sciatica on both sides
- have weakness or numbness in both legs that’s severe or getting worse
- have numbness around or under your genitals, or around your bottom
- find it hard to start peeing, cannot pee or cannot control when you pee and this is not normal for you
- do not notice when you need to poo or cannot control when you poo and this is not normal for you
These could be symptoms of a serious back problem that needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible.
You May Like: Do Blueberries Make You Constipated
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Sciatica
- The pain is not improving after several days or seems to be getting worse.
- If the affected person is younger than 20 years of age or older than 55 years of age and is having sciatica for the first time
- The affected individual presently has cancer or has a history of cancer.
- The affected individual has lost a large amount of weight recently or has unexplained chills and fever with back pain.
- The affected individual is HIV positive or uses IV drugs.
- Someone has trouble bending forward after more than a week or two.
- The affected individual notices weakness is getting more pronounced over time.
Go to a hospitals emergency department if any of the following occur along with sciatica.
- The pain is unbearable, despite trying first aid methods.
- The pain follows a violent injury, such as a fall from a ladder or an automobile crash.
- The pain is in the back of the chest.
- The affected individual is unable to move or feel his or her legs or feet.
- The affected individual loses control of his or her bowels or bladder or has numbness in his or her genitals. These may be symptoms of cauda equina syndrome .
- The affected individual has a high temperature .