Sciatica symptoms are associated with compression of the sciatic nerve. If your sciatic nerve is compressed, you can experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including numbness, a near-to-complete lack of feeling. This numbness is often accompanied by a tingling sensation or pain that seems to radiate along the sciatic nerve (running from the lower back through the buttocks and into the legs).
The purpose of the sciatic nerve is to facilitate the flow of information between the lower half of the body and the brain, by way of the spinal cord. When the nerve is impinged, this flow of information is interrupted and different symptoms, including sciatica numbness, can occur. If you experience numbness due to sciatica, it could be due to prolonged nerve compression, irritation or impingement of the sciatic nerve in the spinal column. This condition could potentially cause permanent nerve damage, so it is important to receive medical care as soon as possible.
Causes of numbness with sciatica
Compression with sciatica can have a number of causes. Commonly, the cause is regular wear and tear on the lumbar spine in the lower back. This is most frequently experienced by older patients. Other conditions can cause nerve compression and sciatic numbness, including:
- Degenerative disc disease — the gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs that cushion and provide flexibility in the spine
- Osteoarthritis — facet disease and other arthritic conditions cause the degeneration of vertebral joints in the spine
- Osteophytes — the formation of bone spurs can irritate soft tissue
- Spinal stenosis — the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal or foramina frequently compresses nerves in the spine
- Spondylolisthesis — the misalignment of the lumbar vertebrae can compress the sciatic nerve
- Traumatic injury — back injury can damage the nerve
Treatment for sciatica
Should you have symptoms of numbness from sciatica, your doctor will likely recommend that you try conservative treatment first, including heat therapy, physical therapy, the use of pain medication and limited rest. If debilitating symptoms persist after several months, it may be necessary to try surgery for pain relief. Our minimally invasive procedures for sciatica offer a safer and effective alternative to open neck or back surgery.
Help is available
If you continue to suffer from sciatica numbness and you are in the process of exploring your treatment options, contact one of our Spine Care Consultants today. At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive procedures, including outpatient surgery options, for sciatica. We have helped more than 75,000 patients since 2005 and we invite you to learn more about our pain relief options.