The various symptoms of sciatica

Compression of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar (lower) spine is a major cause of sciatica symptoms, but other factors like pregnancy or sports injuries can also be causes. These symptoms can include chronic, debilitating leg pain to relatively minor numbness or tingling in the feet, and can be experienced differently from person to person based on their location and severity. If you are suffering from sciatica and it is starting to affect your day-to-day life, learning more about the causes and specific symptoms of sciatica can be a great first step in getting the help you deserve.

The sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the body. Originating in the lumbar region of the spine in the lower back, the nerve travels through the buttocks and legs before ending in the feet near the toes. As it extends into the lower body, the sciatic nerve is critical for enabling movement and sensation in important muscle groups.

What causes sciatica symptoms?

Sciatica symptoms occur when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated. When the regular function of the sciatic nerve is compromised, the body can respond with a number of symptoms, known collectively as sciatica. Some of the most common of these include:

  • Pain that radiates along the nerve
  • Leg pain
  • Localized back pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Cramping or muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diminished reflexes

Treatment options

For those experiencing sciatica symptoms, there are a number of treatments currently available. In most cases, this begins with a series of conservative approaches designed to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. Anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, hot and cold compression therapy, stretching techniques, low-impact exercises and a healthy diet are all examples of options that might be recommended by a medical professional.

In the event that conservative treatments are exhausted without providing lasting relief, your doctor may refer you to consult with a specialist to consider surgery. Traditional open spine procedures can involve a large incision, overnight hospitalization and a long recovery period, which is why many view surgery as a last resort. However, Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative with our minimally invasive spine surgery performed on an outpatient basis.^

To learn more, reach out to our team of Spine Care Consultants today and ask for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.

Browse Related Resources