3 Signs of Sciatica and What to Do Next

3 Signs of Sciatica and What to Do Next

There are many roads to lower back pain, and sciatica is certainly one of the most well traveled. Here’s a look at some of the key signs of this condition and what your next steps should be.

In 2020 alone, about 619 million people worldwide reported lower back pain, and this number is expected to jump to 843 million by 2050. To say that the world’s population is well versed in lower back pain is an understatement.

As for what’s driving these numbers, we’re quite sure that sciatica accounts for its fair share. Here in the United States, sciatica affects between 10% and 40% of people, typically over age 40.

In this month’s blog post, Dr. Rajiv Sood and the team here at Spine & Orthopedic Center will focus on this common culprit behind back pain. More specifically, here are three key characteristics of sciatica and what you should do to get relief.

Recognizing sciatica

Your sciatic nerve is the largest in your body, and it’s made up of motor and sensory nerve fibers from spinal nerves in your lower back. This nerve splits and travels down each side of your buttocks, into your legs, and down to your feet.

Sciatica occurs when something compresses this nerve, often a herniated disc, which can lead to the following symptoms:

1. Pain

One of sciatica’s first and hardest-to-ignore symptoms is pain, which can flare or remain constant. For example, some people experience a constant burning sensation in their low back, especially if they’re in one position for long periods. Conversely, some people experience shooting pain with certain movements, such as getting up from a chair or bending over.

This pain can stay local in your lower back but often travels down the sciatic nerve, into one side of your buttocks, and down one leg.

2. Numbness and tingling

Outside of pain, sciatica can also lead to numbness and tingling sensations that travel down one side of your lower body. These sensations can have the same characteristics as the pain — they can be constant or only flare with certain positions.

3. Weakness

If the nerve compression is significant, you may experience weakness in your leg or foot. This symptom isn’t as common as the above two.

Addressing sciatica

If these symptoms sound familiar, a good first step is to come see us for verification. After reviewing your symptoms, performing a physical exam, and using advanced imaging, if necessary, we can confirm or rule out sciatica.

If we confirm sciatica, our first priority is your relief from any discomfort. Over-the-counter medications are often enough to handle sciatica pain, and we can review a good hot/cold therapy you can practice at home that will help.

We also recommend some physical therapy, which can be extremely helpful in addressing nerve entrapment.

If your sciatica doesn’t respond to conservative measures, we can get more aggressive with interventional pain management injections to relieve discomfort and inflammation.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of sciatica, please contact our Jonesboro, Georgia, office to schedule an appointment.