How sciatica and foot numbness are related
Sciatica presents a variety of symptoms, including foot numbness, caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It originates in the lumbar (lower) back and runs downward, branching off into both legs and giving sensation and movement to much of the lower body. Because of its size and location, it is particularly prone to compression caused by conditions in the spine related to aging or injury.
When conditions such as bone spurs or herniated discs make contact with the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain, tingling, muscle weakness and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, feet and toes. These symptoms can be very disruptive to your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love.
The following information can help you learn more about the causes of symptoms like foot numbness and will allow you to better work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that has the best chance of getting you back to an active lifestyle.
How does sciatica cause foot numbness?
Patients who experience sciatica and foot numbness often have other symptoms as well, including leg pain or an occasional sensation of pins and needles. In fact, the absence of other sciatica symptoms in the presence of foot numbness or pain could be an indication that the problem is isolated within the foot or lower leg. Symptoms exclusively in the toes or other parts of the foot might be related to nerve damage, compression in another part of the lower leg or a circulation problem that is limiting the foot’s blood supply.
If you begin to experience these symptoms at any level, such as when bending forward, it is crucial to contact a doctor for a diagnosis. This is important because long-term compression that does not get treated can potentially lead to nerve damage. To understand the cause of your foot numbness and other sciatica symptoms, your doctor can review your medical history, perform a physical examination and potentially order diagnostic imagery like an MRI to determine the best course of action.
Treating sciatica and foot numbness
Once the underlying causes of sciatic nerve compression are identified, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to relieve sciatica and foot numbness symptoms as well as improve lost mobility. This course of conservative treatment might include methods, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic visits
- Stretching exercises
- Epidural steroid injections
- Hot and cold compresses
If chronic symptoms persist after several weeks or months and a doctor or spine specialist is recommending surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ Our procedures have helped 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic back pain.
For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today.