Where is sciatic nerve pain felt?

Sciatic nerve pain can be felt anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve, which spans from the lower spine through the hips, buttocks, legs and feet. Because this important nerve transmits motor and sensory signals throughout the lower body, interference with the sciatic nerve can be debilitating.

Often, the pain radiates from the lower back and into the hips, buttocks and leg on one side of the body or the other. The discomfort can range from mild to severe and is often accompanied by numbness, muscle weakness and tingling sensations. An individual with sciatic nerve compression might tend to favor one side of the body and possibly experience difficulties with finding comfortable positions for sitting and resting. Collectively, these symptoms are known as sciatica.

Causes of sciatic pain

Sciatic nerve pain is usually caused by an underlying condition that is placing excess pressure on the sciatic nerve. Some common causes of sciatic nerve compression include:

  • Degenerative disc disease. If the outer wall of a disc in the lower spine ruptures, some of the inner gel-like material can push out and press on the sciatic nerve.
  • Facet joint disease. If the protective cartilage that surrounds the facet joints in the lower spine begins to wear away, bone spurs can form in response to the resulting bone-on-bone contact in the joints. This excess bony material can compress the sciatic nerve.
  • Spondylolisthesis. Due to age-related degeneration or trauma, a lumbar vertebra can slip forward over an adjacent vertebra and stress the sciatic nerve.
  • Piriformis syndrome. If the piriformis muscle in the low back becomes inflamed, stretched or spasmodic, it can irritate the sciatic nerve.

Finding relief from sciatic pain

After confirming a diagnosis, a physician will usually prescribe a conservative treatment plan involving therapies like exercise, pain relievers, physical therapy and sciatic nerve block injections. Surgery is usually not recommended until conservative options have been exhausted without an improvement in symptoms.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is an alternative to highly invasive traditional procedures. Our board-certified+ surgeons are able to access the spine and decompress nerves with a muscle-sparing less than 1-inch incision. This helps our patients enjoy a shorter recovery period^ and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.

Contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today to request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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