Sciatic nerve pain manifests in several ways. It can come on suddenly and then stop just as suddenly. Or it can slowly develop into a chronic problem. It may be intermittent or sustained over long periods of time.
There’s nothing good about sciatic nerve pain except the fact that it’s easy to identify, easy to treat and can be dealt with non-invasively.
So, let’s look at the common symptoms of sciatic nerve pain and what to do about them.
The most common cause of sciatic nerve pain is a herniated disc in the lower vertebrae. When a disc is herniated (also called “bulging” or “slipped”), the gel-like substance inside the disc is pushed outside its fibrous coating.
This effect throws the entire spinal system out of whack because of its impact on surrounding nerves. Herniations can cause some serious pain and when the largest nerve in the body is involved – the sciatic nerve – you’re going to know it.
The sciatic nerve and symptoms
Starting in your lower back, the sciatic nerve splits in two and runs down the backs of both legs, down to the feet. Sciatic nerve pain usually manifests in only one leg.
Pain originating in the sciatic nerve can appear in the back of the leg, or at the outer side. It may be mild or severe and may also be accompanied by numbness or a tingling sensation. You may also experience sudden weakness of the foot and ankle.
Are you at risk?
The demographic most likely to be affected by sciatic nerve pain is between the ages of 30 and 50. If you are overweight or pregnant, you’re also more likely develop sciatic pain due to the pressure caused by extra weight on the lumbar vertebrae.
Your job may also be the problem. People who engage in heavy labor involving lifting and those who sit for prolonged periods as part of their work are in the danger zone.
What to do about it
Many people who experience sciatic nerve pain will recover in a matter of weeks. Pain can be managed effectively with the use of over-the-counter pain medications.
But when the condition lingers, prescribed medications may be in order.
It should also be noted that succumbing to the temptation to wait out sciatica and abandoning all activity is a mistake. Movement is key to managing the condition. Your doctor may even recommend that you engage in doctor-directed exercise or even physical therapy to speed recovery.
Other complementary modalities which may be prescribed include acupuncture, chiropractic and steroid injections.
Should the pain from sciatica endure for more than 3 months, consult with your doctor about surgical solutions, particularly if a disc herniation has been identified.
It’s important to remember that most instances of sciatica are transient and may be effectively addressed with the conservative methods mentioned above.
If you believe you’re suffering from sciatic nerve pain, consider scheduling an appointment with Spine Consult NJ. We treat all conditions of the spine with a wide spectrum of therapies.