Sciatica is not a disease or disorder, but rather a symptom of an inflamed or injured sciatic nerve.
This nerve, which is the longest in your body (extending from your spinal cord to your feet), supplies each leg with feeling and movement.
If the sciatic nerve is injured or if its roots are compressed, typically from a bulging or torn spinal disc, you may experience a tingle or burning sensation in your lower back and down one leg.
In addition to a bulging or torn disc, other causes of sciatica include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Pelvic injury or fracture
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
- Sciatic nerve tumor
- Spinal tumors
Typically, sciatica causes your leg to feel numb or weak, with the pain starting slowly. It can worsen when you cough, sneeze, or even laugh. It may limit your ability to walk or sit, depending on the severity and frequency of the associated pain. Visit our sciatica symptoms page for a more in-depth look into possible effects.
Sciatica symptoms normally respond to self-care measures such as:
- Hot and cold packs
- Non-prescription medicine such as analgesics
- Physical therapy exercises, including posture correction, muscle strengthening and flexibility
In more severe cases, steroid injections, prescription medications for stabbing pain, or surgery are necessary to relieve suffering.
If you’re experiencing a dull ache, shooting pains or numbness in one leg, contact your physician. He or she can pinpoint the cause of your discomfort and recommend a wide range of treatments.
For patients who suffer sciatica symptoms longer than the typical four to eight weeks, and who aren’t responding to their doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, there is another option available— minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today for a free MRI or CT scan review, and to learn more about our state-of-the-art institute.