Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot.
Common causes of sciatica include:
- Disc herniation
- Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)
- Pelvic injury or fracture
Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.
The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The pain or numbness may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.
The pain often starts slowly. Sciatica pain may get worse:
- After standing or sitting
- At night
- When sneezing, coughing, or laughing
- When bending backwards or walking more than a few yards, especially if caused by spinal stenosis
Signs and tests
A physical exam may show:
- Weakness of knee bending or foot movement
- Difficulty bending the foot inward or down
- Abnormal or weak reflexes
- Loss of sensation or numbness
- Pain when lifting the leg straight up off the examining table
Tests to determine a specific cause may include:
- Blood tests
- MRIs or other imaging tests
When to seek care
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- Unexplained fever with back pain
- Back pain after a severe blow or fall
- Redness or swelling on the back or spine
- Pain traveling down your legs below the knee
- Weakness or numbness in your buttocks, thigh, leg, or pelvis
- Burning with urination or blood in your urine
- Pain that is worse when you lie down, or awakens you at night
- Severe pain and you cannot get comfortable
- Loss of control of urine or stool (incontinence)
Also call if:
- You have been losing weight unintentionally
- You use steroids or intravenous drugs
- You have had back pain before but this episode is different and feels worse
- This episode of back pain has lasted longer than 4 weeks
Dr. Berry's Class IV Sciatica Treatment Program
The Class IV K-Laser is at the heart of our treatment program. It provides a safe, effective, non-invasive, painless solution for sciatic pain and injury. Patients respond exceptionally well to treatments and usually notice significant pain relief after just a few treatments. Dr. Berryï¿½s program utilizes the latest FDA Cleared Lasers, and combines them with other therapies to help reduce the pain, strengthen the muscles and increase range of motion. Most importantly these treatments help reduce inflammation/swelling, which helps improve overall function. Dr. Berry has been treating spinal injuries for over 35 years and has been helping people suffering from various health conditions during that time. Patients seek his advice and care if they want to avoid surgery if at all possible and help you return to all the activities you enjoy.
Listen to this happy patient that had a disc herniation!
Listen to this Happy Patient talk about her Treatment