1.) Firstly, what does sciatica feel like?
If you’ve had it, it’s unmistakable. Since it is nerve pain, it can vary in presentation:
- Sharp, shooting electric shock down the leg – this is especially true after a sudden movement of the lower back or hip
- It can present as a feeling of weakness down the leg and not feeling steady on the affected side
- Numbness, burning, and tingling are all common complaints when experiencing sciatica
2.) What part(s) of the body does sciatica affect?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. For that reason, sciatica can present anywhere along the track of the sciatic nerve and its branches. That is from the lower back all the way down to the feet and toes. The most common sites that people complain of for sciatica are:
- Lower back
- Back and side of the knee
- Side of the leg
3.) What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. Causes of irritation of the sciatic nerve are many, but the most common are:
- Disc bulge, disc protrusion, disc derangement, disc degeneration, disc extrusion
- Spondylolesthesis- this is the slipping of a vertebrae forward (anteriorlesthesis) or backward (retrolesthesis)
- Lower back degeneration (Spondylosis) – a result of time, compounded by stress on the spine.
- Peripheral entrapment at the soft tissues of the hip, hamstrings, and lower leg – usually a product of repetitive stress and sustained tension on the soft-tissues surrounding the sciatic nerve.
4.) The good news is that most sciatica cases, over 80%, respond extremely well to conservative care (the type of care we provide here at our office).
A smaller percentage of cases require co-management or to be referred out for an orthopedic consult. An examination is the first step in the process for determining the appropriate course of action.
5.) Causes for alarm and emergency situations with sciatica
- Loss of bowel/bladder function
- Rapidly progressive neurological symptoms – for example weakness and numbness down the leg
- Sciatica caused by a severely traumatic incident such as a car accident or sports injury.
As a musculoskeletal healthcare provider, here in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida I’ve seen first hand how debilitating sciatica can be. A proper course of action can differ from patient to patient. Therefore, it’s important to be able to track what changes are being made on the road to recovery. In our office we utilize a test, treat, and re-test approach so that we know how you’re progressing every step of the way.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing sciatica, we’re here to help.
Give us a call at (561) 318-8070