The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain vary from patient to patient depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. Beginning in the lumbar spine in the lower back, the sciatic nerve travels through the buttocks, down the leg, and culminates in the feet. This nerve innervates a variety of integral muscles in the lower body and facilitates the flow of information between the brain and extremities. However, the sciatic nerve’s proximity to the lumbar spine segment also frequently leads to sciatic nerve pain as a result of degenerative spine conditions.
The Lumbar Spine
The lumbar spine is the strongest and most flexible segment of the spinal column. These five or six vertebrae provide much-needed mobility in the lower back and bear the burden of supporting most of the body’s weight. Over the years, as a result of regular wear and tear, the spinal anatomy gradually begins to deteriorate. The intervertebral discs that cushion and separate the vertebrae weaken, the vertebral joints that stabilize the spine become arthritic, bone spurs form, and soft tissue becomes inflamed or calcified. This is entirely normal and largely unavoidable. However, if these degenerative spine conditions result in the compression of the sciatic nerve in the spinal column, a number of painful symptoms can occur.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with nerve compression in the lumbar spine include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain that radiates or “travels” along the sciatic nerve
- Muscle weakness along the sciatic nerve
- Soreness or stiffness
- A feeling of numbness or tingling in the toes
If you experience chronic lower back or sciatic pain, it is important to visit your doctor for a medical examination. In many cases, a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments are all that is needed to overcome your discomfort. If your pain persists for several months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic techniques might be just the thing you need to rediscover your life without back and neck pain. Call today to schedule a consultation and request a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.