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What is Sciatica?
Definition of Sciatica
Sciatica Symptoms
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Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica is the condition in which the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, is impinged, irritated or inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. The position where the sciatic nerve is affected will determine where the symptoms are felt but it could be anywhere from the lower back to the lower leg, usually only on one side of the body.

While there could be a range of sciatica symptoms you might experience, there are some symptoms that are the most common. With sciatica, you may experience one or more of these sciatica symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back that may radiate down one side into the leg or foot.
  • Pain that is felt in one side of the buttocks.
  • Numbness or weakness in the foot or toes.
  • Pain when moving the foot or leg.
  • Leg or buttocks pain that is exacerbated by sitting.
  • Pins and needles in the feet or toes.
  • Tingling or a burning sensation traveling down the leg or in the foot or toes.
  • A shooting pain that starts at the lower back or hip and travels down theback of the thigh into the lower leg.

The main sciatica symptom is the pain which can vary from uncomfortable to excruciating. Sciatica pain may be felt at any point along the sciatic nerve which travels from the lower spine, through the pelvis, down the back of the thigh and into the lower leg and foot.

The exact symptoms are determined by the location of the irritation or compression of the roots to the sciatic nerve, where it leaves the spinal cord. While some people experience back pain with sciatica, it is usually less severe than the associated hip, leg or foot pain.

The shooting pain that is so often associated with sciatica can be so severe that the patient is unable to move. The slightest movement can cause an increase in the pain and muscles may seize up because of the tension. It is often experienced after the patient has been in the same sitting position for an extended time, like on a road trip, and then goes to stand up or get out of the car, in our example.

They may be stopped half-way up by severe shooting pain from the back of the hip down into the lower leg. This type of sciatica pain often takes a person by surprise as it is often not preceded by any other symptoms.

Another common experience with sciatica sufferers is that they experience sciatica pain after having been lifting heavy objects or working in a forward bent position for an extended time, like when gardening. They may experience pain at the time or it may develop over the following 12 to 24 hours. This sciatica pain is more likely to be more like a dull ache or tingling in the lower leg and foot. Weakness on the affected side is common.

Sciatica symptoms may be worse after standing for long periods, at night, when coughing or sneezing or after walking down stairs or sloping ground. Any unexplained, severe or sudden pain needs to be investigated by a medical professional so that a correct diagnosis can be reached. While some sciatica symptoms are severe at the time, they are usually relieved with rest, pain medication and maybe other medication prescribed by your doctor.

Video: Sciatica and Disc Herniation Signs and Symptoms



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